Rassie Erasmus will have his reasons but I think he should have been bold in his selections for the Italy match and dropped Willie le Roux, moved Cheslin Kolbe to fullback and promoted Sbu Nkosi to the right wing.
Le Roux is a confidence player and right now he is short of it and consequently out of form. Maybe the coach is giving the experienced 57-cap veteran the benefit of the doubt for this game ahead of the play-offs and if he doesn’t come good tomorrow, he will make the change.
Kolbe, though is in terrific form. He is by some margin the best Springbok back both on defence and attack. His first-time tackling against the All Blacks was a joy to behold, so was his courage and skill under the high ball; and his awareness of when to chip, when to pass and when to hold onto the ball showed that he is right on top of his game.
But it is Kolbe’s explosiveness with ball in hand that impresses the most and you would think that the more he gets his hands on the ball the better for the Boks, and that would happen at fullback, which also happens to be his preferred position.
Moving Kolbe to fullback would facilitate Nkosi coming into the side at 14, a position he has occupied with distinction every time he has played for his country. He has started nine Tests and has a return of seven tries. If there was ever a picture of honest endeavour in a Bok jersey it is Nkosi, who combines 110 percent determination with a muscular presence. Nick-named “Lomu” at school, Nkosi is stocky and has the strength to twist and turn out of tackles.
Nkosi also has a swagger about him, a confident attitude bordering on arrogance that has him making the most of every opportunity he gets with ball in hand.
I’d have him in my side any day, even if it requires him adapting to left wing in place of his Sharks teammate Makazole Mapimpi.
Lood de Jager’s elevation to the starting line-up is a big boost for the Boks. I rate Franco Mostert, a tireless workhorse and a great team man but he does not have the class or finesse of De Jager.
We shouldn’t forget that De Jager and Eben Etzebeth were the starting second row in the last World Cup and De Jager, then 22, was arguably the best Springbok on show. I recall he made more tackles than any other player in England.
He is now 26 and hitting his prime after a horror run of injuries. De Jager’s comeback is now complete after a superb display against Namibia and his inclusion definitely strengthens the pack.
De Jager is an intelligent player – he scored five.
As in Matric – and he runs the line-outs brilliantly.