Mo­bil­ity be­fore power for Boks

But coach Eras­mus’s SA team won’t be lack­ing for grunt against the French

Daily News - - SPORT - jacq_west JAC­QUES VAN DER WESTHUYZEN @ Com­piled by Jac­ques van der Westhuyzen

ONE thing the Spring­boks won’t be short of to­mor­row is work­horses.

The Boks may be giv­ing up a few ki­los and lack­ing some brawn be­cause of Eben Etze­beth’s ab­sence – he has a foot in­jury – but with Franco Mostert back in the team, the vis­i­tors will have a su­per mo­bile and ex­tremely hard­work­ing lock pair­ing and back row.

And their en­gines will keep go­ing and go­ing un­til coach Rassie Eras­mus deems they can do no more.

With Mostert com­ing in to part­ner Pi­eter-Steph du Toit in the sec­ond row, the Boks will have two locks against France in Paris who are renowned for their work-rate and tack­ling abil­ity.

And let’s not for­get, both men have reg­u­larly played at blind­side flank, so there’s plenty of mo­bil­ity there, too.

And then, with Eras­mus stick­ing with the same loose trio that ran out a week ago, and rightly so, the Boks have got more men who seem to never run out of gas.

War­ren White­ley has been one of Su­per Rugby’s big­gest tack­lers in re­cent years, top­ping the hits list on sev­eral oc­ca­sions, while cap­tain Siya Kolisi’s tackle rate and work ef­fort this year have gone through the roof.

They’re also play­ers who get through plenty of work as ball car­ri­ers, and will be ably sup­ported by Duane Ver­meulen, who’ll take on a greater ball­car­ry­ing role now that Etze­beth is miss­ing. He’s no slouch when it comes to tack­ling, ei­ther.

It is not sur­pris­ing that Eras­mus has stuck with the same men up front for this week’s Test – bar­ring Mostert com­ing in for Etze­beth.

The Bok pack did well against Eng­land last week­end at Twick­en­ham and dom­i­nated in sev­eral areas; it is just fair that they get an­other op­por­tu­nity this week.

The only real depart­ment of con­cern will be the line-outs, where Mal­colm Marx missed his jumpers on four oc­ca­sions.

Mostert is one of six over­seas­based play­ers in­cluded af­ter not be­ing avail­able last week, and it’s fully un­der­stand­able why Eras­mus has gone that route. They’re all ex­pe­ri­enced cam­paign­ers with knowl­edge of north­ern con­di­tions and of some of the French play­ers, and it’s a Test the Boks won’t want to slip up in.

Wil­lie le Roux and Faf de Klerk cer­tainly strengthen the side at scrumhalf and full­back, and as reg­u­lar starters this year, were al­ways go­ing to get picked ahead of the younger rook­ies.

One has to feel for Damian Willemse, who started at 15 last week and is now out of the match 23 com­pletely, but Le Roux has al­ways been Eras­mus’s first choice.

On the bench, Sara­cens-based Vin­cent Koch, highly-rated in Eng­land, gets an op­por­tu­nity, com­ing in for Wilco Louw, and his ex­pe­ri­ence of scrum­ming in north­ern con­di­tions and against some of the French­men will also boost the Bok set-piece.

Fran­cois Louw, with 62 caps, is the most se­nior man in the match-day squad and a player who is rated by Eras­mus. Again, the Bok boss has gone for ex­pe­ri­ence, but it would have been nice to see Sikhum­buzo Not­she, with his pace, get­ting a go this week.

Ch­es­lin Kolbe’s X-fac­tor and ex­pe­ri­ence – and his knowl­edge of the French – would have got him the nod ahead of Willemse, and you can’t ar­gue too much about that. Per­haps Willemse could have stayed in the squad, though, and got a chance as Han­dre Pol­lard’s back-up this week, with El­ton Jan­tjies sit­ting out.

The Li­ons man’s squad place is safe so Willemse get­ting an op­por­tu­nity to maybe play at 10 wouldn’t have been a bad move.

All in all, it’s a very solid Bok squad. They now need to per­form as well as they look.

ON WIL­LIE AND FAF BE­ING BACK

Play­ing France away in Paris is a big chal­lenge and I def­i­nitely think guys like Em­brose (Papier) and Damian (Willemse) learned a lot last week (against Eng­land), but get­ting Ch­es­lin (Kolbe), Faf (de Klerk) and all the ex­pe­ri­enced guys back now, when we have to grind out a win this week, is pretty im­por­tant.

ON THEIR CHANCES OF WIN­NING

It will be a tough one. The Boks did well last year to win and it will be the same this year; we’ll have to grind it out.

We’ve had two close losses on the trot now (to New Zea­land and Eng­land) so we’re des­per­ate and would like to turn it around. Not sure who the favourites are.

ON LIFE WITH­OUT EBEN ETZE­BETH

If you take 60-70 caps out of a team, it won’t be the same team, but play­ers be­ing given a chance, like RG Sny­man, Pi­eter-Steph be­ing one of the best flank-locks I’ve worked with... they’re qual­ity. We’ll miss Eben for sure, but we’ve got proper re­place­ments and we’re close to match­ing what we’re miss­ing in him.

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