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When the Elephants fight…

Continuity appears to have been the motivation behind the selection of the Springbok team for Saturday’s test against Ireland. Juandré Kruger is the logical replacement for Andries Bekker, as is JP Pietersen for Bryan Habana. Pat Lambie gets the chance to prove to Heyneke Meyer that his best position is flyhalf, and I hope that he does.

The Boks want to start the tour on a positive note, and the team selected, had some playing time together, so one cannot really fault the selection. A very important aspect of the matches over the next month is that it will determine the seedings for the next Rugby World Cup. We need to stay in the top four, preferably at worst, at number three.

I am a bit surprised that Jaco Taute was not moved to his best position, full back, but then Zane Kirchner did nothing that could be considered serious enough to drop him. I just think that Taute (and Louis Ludik) adds greater penetration on the counter attack, but with the expected weather conditions (5 degrees Celsius and rain), you want experience in the last fortress. Had he chosen Juan de Jongh at centre as Jean de Villiers’s partner, the vote may very well have gone the way of Taute at full back. Francois Hougaard, in my view, is a powerful impact player. What possibly counted against Mvovo is Hougaard’s better handling skills and experience.

Still, I think it is a team well equipped to stand their man against an injury-ridden Irish side. The return of Paul O’Connel adds a huge amount of impact to the tight five. I am particularly looking forward to his contest with Eben Etzebeth. Like one commentator recently said: “When the elephants fight, it is usually the grass that suffers. Eina!

Then of course, there is also Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts and Francois Louw. Double eina.

Yes, we should win the test. With nine of the starting 15 having played in the Currie Cup final, in poor weather conditions, I am hoping for yet another good game, not marred by aimless kicking.


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