Cape Town - There are only four more matches left for Heyneke Meyer to identify and fine-tune his best combinations for this year's Rugby World Cup.
The Rugby Championship sees the Boks take on Australia on Saturday before returning to play New Zealand at Emirates Airlines Park (July 25) and Argentina at King's Park (August 8). They then travel to Buenos Aires (August 15) for a Test match against the Pumas that will be their last preparation for the World Cup.
When you combine the limited time left with the Boks' long injury list, it makes every minute of every Test match between now and then crucial.
Pat Lambie, Lood de Jager and Cobus Reinach are all in the Bok squad for Saturday having only just recovered from injury while Fourie du Preez, Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Willem Alberts and Frans Steyn remain on the injured list.
Meyer, when asked in Brisbane about Lambie getting crucial minutes under his belt, spoke about the difficulties he is facing in trying to get his newly recovered players game time while also using these matches to work on combinations.
"It is difficult because Handre also hasn’t played the last two Super Rugby games now," said Meyer.
"The problem suddenly for me now is about combinations. You want to settle some sort of combinations and then also Pat hasn’t played a lot and you have to give him game time.
"But if you look at the bench most of the guys didn’t have game time last week. So it’s a position we don’t want to be in ... we have to box clever and try and work around it but you also want guys to play together.
"If you look at a guy like Fourie (Du Preez) coming back, I think Pollard has played one Test match with him. Pat will probably come on as well. The great thing about him is that he can also cover 15."
The 10, 12, 13 combination stands out as one needing as much time together as possible. Jesse Kriel will make his debut at outside centre against the Wallabies, but with Jean de Villiers looking to regain full match fitness with Western Province there is a good chance that combination will change once more.
"Jesse is a quality player but he will have to prove it against the best and Australia have one of the best backlines in world rugby," said Meyer.
"They can be lethal if they get quality and quick ball. I think his (Kriel's) defence especially will be tested alongside Damian (De Allende). It’s up to him now to make the position his own, there is not a lot of game time before the World Cup.
"He is a quality player. That is a very specific position and probably the most difficult position to defend. Potential-wise I think he can make it, and that is why I’ve picked him for this tough Test match. This will be a big test of character for him."
Saturday's kick-off is at 12:05.
15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 James Slipper
Substitutes: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 James Horwill, 20 David Pocock, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Drew Mitchell
15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Schalk Burger, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Heinke van der Merwe, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Oupa Mohoje, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Lwazi Mvovo