Test week has arrived and the Springboks are gearing up to host Wales in the first of 3 tests at Loftus next Saturday. What makes this week even more special, is that it is the first time the Boks will be taking to the field in front of a home crowd as World Champions. The successive lockdowns and ensuing restrictions have barred the fans from celebrating with their side, and I can assure you that the long wait will have Loftus vibing hard on Saturday.
Now with Jacques Nienaber and Rassie, we have come to know that they don't tinker with things too much. I get where they are coming from, if it ain't broke, why fix it? With this in mind it is hard to imagine many changes to the Springbok side, especially in test 1. Experimentation can come in tests 2 and 3 if we get off to a winning start and ease up the pressure a little bit. It is with this in mind that I undertook the task of picking the first match day 23 of the year.
It is now well known that if you don't train with the Boks on Monday, you aren't going to be selected for the weekends match 23. It is for this reason that I am unsure of whether Pollard or Elton will get the nod at 10. Pollard was involved in Montpellier's Top 14 championship win and will only be arriving on Monday to join the squad. The problem with Elton is that he is also returning off of the back of a long term injury and is frighteningly short on game time at this point. I ended up selecting Pollard, but that is my only area of uncertainty in the team below.
Lood de Jager
Siya Kolisi (c)
Pieter-Steph du Toit
Faf de Klerk
Damian De Allende
Willie Le Roux
The main changes here from the last test of 2021 is that I have not included Jessie Kriel, who started on the wing due to the return to fitness of Kolbe. I have moved Kwagga to the bench for PSDT who is also back from injury, whilst Wiese has been elevated to start in the absence of Duane. Faf also returns from injury to replace Reinach who is now injured. Elton & Frans were both on the bench against England last year but I feel Damian offers cover at 10-12-13 and Fassi offers cover for the back 3.
A heavy reliance will be placed on the players who have been there and done this before. Wales are no walk over and all the recent tests between these two sides have been exceedingly close contests. The Bok side is traditionally announced on a Tuesday. With that in mind, Ronnie & I have moved the Podcast release to Wednesday's so that we can bring you all the action, as it happens.