Test 2 of the July Incoming Series against Wales is taking place this Saturday in Bloemfontein and Jacques Nienaber has essentially overhauled the entire team that did duty at Loftus. In the starting line-up there are 14 changes, with only Eben Etzebeth retaining his jersey. The same can be said of the bench where only Marx, Koch and Willemse found favor. For the most part this is a big gamble, but what can this team produce?
When you look at the side on paper, there is plenty to get excited about. Many of these players could be and are challenging for starting berths. Then there are a load of in form players who are also selected into the side. So many players who featured in the URC final are getting their shot and you can bet on the fact that every single one of these players will perform, knowing this may be their one chance to crack the starting side for the Rugby Championship starting in August.
For me the absolute biggest strength of this side comes in the loose trio though. In the words often used by fellow Punt-it Liam, I am 'frothing' to see the likes of PSDT, Coetzee and Roos combining at the back of the scrum. These players all boast incredibly large engines and will be tearing into the Welsh break down from the very first whistle. They are physical machines and if they can click and play their roles well, Wales will have a very tough time containing them.
Not only are they a threat at the breakdown though, all three of these players are renowned for their ability with ball in hand. Pieter-Steph is a proven quality and the World Player of the Year (2019) will be eager to remind his opponents of this. He is a powerful runner and often the wider channels have opened up after a strong carry from him up the middle. In Coetzee and Roos we have the same thing, both players lead the list for most carries and defenders beaten in the URC and we should be expecting them to continue this trend this weekend.
Can you imagine being Dan Biggar this week and realising who will be running up your channel all week long? Not only will he be dealing with this back row, he will have Pollard opposite him, and we know they will be sending Andre 'the giant' Esterhuizen down his way as often as possible. A little extra shoulder strapping may just be the order of the day.
After the starting loosies have softened up the Welsh, it won't be getting any easier as Deon Fourie looks set to become the oldest Springbok debutant in history, a record previously held by Deon Lotter (35 years, 7 months and 23 days). Fourie is a menace on the ground and a profound fetcher, he will provide the Boks exactly what they need in the final quarter as they look to deploy the renowned 'Bomb Squad' tactics.
It is incredible to think that what the Welsh have dubbed our '2nd' team can boast this much talent. All of these players are here on merit and I am backing them to put in a solid performance at the Toyota Stadium on Saturday. Three players really stand out from this side though and they will surely be the focus of much of Wales' attention.