Later today Jacques Nienaber will name the Springbok side for their opening clash of the November tests against Wales this weekend. Kick off is at 19:30 in what will be a rematch of the 2019 semi-final between the two that ended in South Africa's favor when Handre Pollard slotted a last gasp penalty. Adding to the occasion will be the Welsh players desire to get revenge for the Lions tour and we are going to have an epic battle on our hands.
Wales will fortunately add some key personnel this weekend, as their test against the All Blacks fell outside of the international test window, a game they lost 54 - 16. Head coach Wayne Pivac will be hoping for a much improved performance from his side when they face the Boks this weekend. Alun Wyn Jones is also a concern for them, having gone down early in his history making test with a shoulder injury.
For the Springboks, their notable omissions come in the form of Faf de Klerk and Cheslin Kolbe. Both were with the side for the Rugby Championship but have failed to recover from injury in time to participate. De Klerk recently underwent surgery for a hip flexor injury and is going to spend an extended period on the side lines. Pieter-Steph du Toit and Frans Malherbe have also not made the trip North. Sbu Nkosi will likely continue his roll on the wing but who will take hold of the 9 Jersey?
Cobus Reinach has generally been favored for the starting role when Faf is unavailable. Whilst Herschel Jantjies has been the preferred option of the bench in almost all fixtures. So who then will take charge of the crucial role in the Bok backline?
Reinach took his chance to remind the Bok management of his quality with a strong performance for Montpellier, played in front of his national team mates. Reinach possesses pace in abundance and is lethal on attack. His try for Montpellier was phenomenal as he hit the charging 8 from the back of the scrum, stripped him of the ball before speeding 80m to score. He's a well rounded player and he would be my choice to start in at least two of the three tests this tour. I would like to see him start against Wales and England, in a horses for courses role.
Herschel Jantjies is the other capped scrumhalf on the tour and is a sublime player. He is cool calm and collected and this is shown in his current role for the side. He is called on to bring composure to the side and to close out games. His pin point kicking from the base and solid distribution have helped the Boks become a solid unit right up until the 80th. Jantjies is still young at 25 and has a long career ahead of him in the green and gold. He would be in my starting 23 for all 3 tests but I would only start him in the game against Scotland, allowing him to continue his role as a closer for the Boks in the other two fixtures.
Grant Williams is the other 9 on tour and the Sharks youngster has yet to get a crack in the Green and Gold. He toured Australia with the Boks during the Rugby Championship and will be well settled in the teams structures by now. He also boasts great pace from the base of the ruck and a solid distribution game. Whilst he is a fairly unknown quantity on the international stage, he has shown great promise in the black and white of the Sharks. He will likely get his first cap off the bench against Scotland in week 2.
An area that once was a problem for the Springboks, now boasts considerable depth. Whilst the influence of De Klerk will be missed on defense, the Boks are still well stocked to challenge their Northern counterparts in the coming weeks.