The Boks may have lost the test on Saturday with a dismal performance in most, if not all aspects of their game. The loss however was coming already from Monday already, when the team was named, if not earlier. The warning signs were all there, but like a guy swiping right on tinder, Jacques Nienaber ignored the red flags and couldn't resist the temptation of swiping right on his veterans, in the hope of getting one over... on the Aussies.
The result? A 25 - 17 loss down under which should actually have been 25 - 3, so outplayed were the mighty Bokke on the day. Kwagga Smith's two consolation tries were the proverbial lipstick on the pig, making the Springboks look better than what they were. Other than that, there is very little to be happy about in that fixture and the coaching staff will be left with many more questions than answers here. Will they adapt now or keep trying to do the same thing over and over again, hoping for a different result?
One thing that must be considered here is that many of the Springbok players are probably exhausted. They have played none stop rugby for a year now, for both those based in Europe as well as those playing in the URC. Whilst their domestic counterparts are enjoying the down time and a full pre-season, the Boks dived head first into their international season, continuing almost a full year of non stop rugby. This is no excuse though and comes down to poor management of player work load. Eben Etzebeth by way of example is a mammoth on the field, he has however been uncharacteristically flat in the last two tests and surely needs to be given a break before we head North.
For all the attacking prowess and physical power the Boks possess, they have failed to fire on two occasions in a row now. If something doesn't change soon, the current 50% win rate will drop even further. We still face tests against the rejuvenated Los Pumas as well as an incredibly tough tour against the high flying French and Irish sides who will be eager to add a Bok scalp to their mantle ahead of the World Cup.
Many of the players the Boks should be turning to now, in an effort to build both squad depth, and to allow respite for the senior squad members, have been left behind in SA. A decision made by the Bok management and one for which they should be held accountable. So with that in mind, considering who is in fact in Australia, this is the team I would play this weekend.
Lood de Jager
Siya Kolisi (c)
Damian De Allende
Willie Le Roux
Pieter Steph Du Toit