Coetzee's 3 options to replace Jan Serfontein

Lukhanyo Am (Gallo)
Lukhanyo Am (Gallo)

Cape Town - Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has a midfield selection dilemma on his hands ahead of Saturday's Test against Ireland in Dublin.

In eight out of nine Tests so far this year, Coetzee has paired Jan Serfontein and Jesse Kriel as his centre combination. 

That partnership has been largely impressive throughout 2017, but with Serfontein unavailable as he settles into life at Montpellier, Coetzee must find a new No 12 to partner Kriel. 

There are, on the surface, three options for the Bok coach, with one possible left-field selection...

Damian de Allende

De Allende has made five appearances for the Boks this year - all of them coming off the bench. With limited opportunities, he has not been able to get anywhere near the promise he showed during 2014 and 2015. It has been a frustrating couple of years for the 25-year-old, but given that he was the midfield cover from the bench for five of the six Rugby Championship matches this year, he is the logical choice to be next in line in Serfontein's absence. If he is given an opportunity, De Allende will be as pumped as ever to prove a point, and that can only be good news for the Boks. His physicality and experience at Test level may very well see him given the nod over the other contenders for the position. 

Lukhanyo Am

Am's day in a Springbok jersey is coming, of that there is no doubt. Having been used primarily as a No 13 in Super Rugby this year, No 12 is actually his most natural position. He certainly has the ability to run hard, straight lines and he can be the ball-carrying No 12 that Coetzee may want on this tour. Am also possesses a lot of pace and skill, though, and he would be an exciting prospect if he was given a go. Whether or not he starts against Ireland on Saturday remains to be seen, but it is hard to imagine the 23-year-old not featuring in some way on this tour. 

Francois Venter

This was one of the more surprising additions to the touring party. It is not that Venter doesn't have the pedigree - he earned three Test caps last year - but given Serfontein's absence most thought Coetzee would turn to Lions powerhouse Rohan Janse van Rensburg. Venter, though, has been drafted in to the set-up and he will be very keen on getting on the park. The Boks lost all three of the matches Venter played in last year, including that ghastly day in Italy. 

Handre Pollard

This is not going to happen against Ireland, or at all as long as injuries don't plague the Boks on their tour, but Coetzee can at least take comfort in the fact that, in Pollard, he has a flyhalf that can cover No 12 as well. 

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