Veteran Springbok loose-forward Francois Louw is excited about the new-look and unfamiliar loose-trio that will run out against Namibia tomorrow.
Louw, who has 70 Tests behind him and is competing in his third World Cup, will very much be the senior in the Bok loose-trio this weekend, even if he isn’t the oldest man in the back-row. He’ll be joined by rookie Kwagga Smith, who’s played just four Tests, and 38-year-old regular hooker Schalk Brits, who’ll play out of position at eighthman and also lead the side.
“It’s going to be exciting playing with Kwagga and Schalk,” said Louw.
“Myself and Schalk come a long way … since our playing days in the Cape. He’s excited to be at No 8 and he’ll bring a lot of energy to the match. And then there’s Kwagga, who’s a fantastic player. He’s had a great year, in Super Rugby and in the Rugby Championship.
“All three of us have our different strengths and weaknesses, but I also think we’ll complement each other well.”
It may be a make-shift loose-trio and the three men may not have played together before, but they’re all vastly experienced. Louw has played at the highest level for many years and also captained Bath at one stage, while Brits played over 200 games for Saracens, and Smith, while only 26, has played all over the world on the Sevens circuit.
Boks defence coach Jacques Nienaber was full of prise of the trio yesterday. “I’m excited to see what they do as a back-row. We’d been wondering who was going to do what between them, but they very quickly sported out their respective roles and responsibilities, like who’ll compete in the line-outs and so on … they’re ready to go.”
Nienaber added the changed Bok team for the match was eager to get some action.
“There’s been a really nice vibe at training … a lot of intensity, but also good focus,” said Nienaber. “Remember most of these guys haven’t played for two weeks so there’s an abundance of energy.”
Louw said the Namibians would come out hard against the Boks. “They’ll go flat out, because they’ll expect us to come hard, especially after our defeat (against New Zealand).
"They’ll want a solid performance for their pride and for their country; they’ll be up for it. I’m looking forward to it.”
Namibia coach, Welshman Phil Davies, meanwhile has made wholesale changes to his side. Only four players who faced Italy in their opener last weekend have been retained.
Tomorrow’s match kicks off at 11.45am (SA time).
@jacq_west The Star
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