Cape Town – In a Castle Rugby Championship clash between two bruised, jittery foes, certain individual battles could tilt the scales between the Springboks and Wallabies in Brisbane on Saturday.
Here is a recommended Sport24 selection:
Bernard Foley v Juan de Jongh
What makes this match-up especially intriguing is that you don’t see either man in a Test No 12 jersey very often, so whoever adapts quickest to slightly unfamiliar positional terrain at Suncorp Stadium will gain a whip hand. Waratahs loyalist Foley, who turned 27 on Thursday, sports 32 Wallabies caps but this is the more customary flyhalf’s mere second start for his country at inside centre (although he will probably retain main place-kicking duty for the home side). Meanwhile De Jongh, still much more accustomed to the outside channel, last began a Test for the Boks at Twickenham in late 2012, aiding a 16-15 triumph over England as Jean de Villiers’s partner. Here he has to try to improve on Damian de Allende’s poor recent option-taking and game management, and also coax out the best in Jesse Kriel, new occupant of the other midfield slot. Both Foley and De Jongh are pleasingly light on their feet, though I pick the Bok man, with his classical hard-and-low tackling, to command a slight edge in defensive terms if they run at each other …
Quade Cooper v Elton Jantjies
I think we can safely brand this match-up extremely “volatile” … it is so difficult to know what to expect from either moody character. The now nine-year international stalwart Cooper is back in favour as the Aussies’ No 10 string-puller, although he is still well capable of providing the sublime and the stupid in the space of a couple of minutes! Maybe having another pivot next to him, in the shape of Foley, will keep him from going too flaky here, although the Bok loose forwards will be well aware that if they harass him often enough he can unravel. But it’s not as though opposite number Jantjies is currently a bastion of consistency and confidence, either … despite his own array of game-cracking skills. If the Lions dynamo doesn’t take proper charge in Brisbane, he may find that an onward ticket to a Christchurch start is denied him – and a good start would be greater authority off the kicking tee in a match that may be desperately close between fragile foes.
Dean Mumm v Oupa Mohoje
Perhaps I am not the only South African surprised by the major fall from grace of Scott Fardy as Wallaby blindside flank? Instead firebrand coach Michael Cheika has asked Waratahs lock Mumm, earning his 49th cap, to adapt to the cares of the altered role. He is primarily there, you suspect, to provide necessary lineout timber at the back, given that the significantly shorter Michael Hooper and David Pocock (deck scavengers, both) are his loosie allies. Even so, one of direct rival Mohoje’s strongest suits is his own lineout capability, and he has help close by from spring-heeled Warren Whiteley in that area. Where the Bok No 7 could do with improvement – he’s been active enough on defence of late – is in ball-carrying, where he is not yet in the league of a Willem Alberts, say, for uncompromising go-forward possibilities. Might that change here? Alert referee Nigel Owens will also be keeping a beady eye on the Cheetahs player for any signs of the high tackles he got away with much of the time in Salta recently, to the chagrin of Argentinean fans … one even penned a particularly emotion-charged letter to Sport24 on the specific topic!
Scott Sio v Lourens Adriaanse
If I have sounded just a little “anti-Adriaanse” during this week, forgive me … that perception would be more because I remain an unashamed admirer of Vincent Koch’s green-and-gold potential and simply believe he got a rough deal by tumbling right out of the match-day mix for this one. But here’s hoping Adriaanse, in a first-time start at tighthead, not only anchors a rock-solid Bok scrum (an area they traditionally love to boss, helping their overall mojo) but matches Koch’s usefulness as a “takes three to stop me” battering-ram near the enemy try-line. There is no special need for the Sharks prop to feel too over-awed by packing down against Wallaby No 1 Sio; they tip the scales at roughly the same 115kg and even if the Aussie front-ranker is that bit more established Test-wise, Adriaanse has had a few more years on the first-class block...
15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Bernard Foley, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 Scott Sio
Substitutes (from): 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 James Slipper, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rory Arnold, 20 Sean McMahon, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Tevita Kuridrani, 23 Drew Mitchell
15 Johan Goosen, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 21 Jaco Kriel, 22 Morne Steyn, 23 Lionel Mapoe
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