No sports supporter should ever get ahead of themselves after one good performance, but the Springboks’ efforts against the French in Durban last weekend proved that the men in green in gold are going through a transformation, and quite a drastic one.
The first match in this three-Test series against France showcased some unknown partnerships which worked well to beat an admittedly underpowered French side. The second Test, however, delivered a flourished and refined performance from Allister Coetzee’s men, one which was reminiscent of an era where the Springbok emblem was a symbol of fear for the opposition, and nothing less.
With the French battered, lacking motivation to redeem the Series, and teetering on the edge of their long-overdue holiday to mark the end of their Northern Hemisphere season, the final Test should prove a somewhat easier challenge for the Springboks. But more than whitewashing France, it’s an opportunity for Warren Whitely and his team to deliver a polished performance with a great balance of strong set-pieces and running rugby. This will be the best outcome ahead of the Rugby Championship, and the most important thing to deliver the whole Series, giving the current squad a morale boosting attitude and surety of a new game-plan that can rival far more settled teams.
Following the second Test, a discussion regarding Allister Coetzee’s rotation policy, and whether or not that should come into effect, was the topic of the week. It’s a pleasing to sight to see that Coetzee and his management staff have realised that consistency is key in Test rugby and that you should always put your best team on the pitch, regardless of the opposition. And, furthermore, you should win every home game. The notion of “giving someone else a chance” is irrelevant in international rugby – the in-form players need to be rewarded, and it’s blindingly obvious who is in-form at the moment.
Springboks – 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Dillyn Leyds.
Prediction: Springboks by 15 points.