Just days away from the opening text of the July Incoming Series and the excitement in the air is palpable. Loftus has sold out and fittingly, the last home test played by the Boks in front of a crowd was at the same stadium back in 2019. It is going to be electric and I am sure the boys are fired up to get the job done this weekend.
Jacques Nienaber has revealed a strong side to kick off the series, boasting numerous World Cup winners with two possible debuts coming off of the bench. There were not too many surprises with the side other than the debate around who should start at 8 in the absence of Duane 'Thor' Vermeulen. Whilst there has never ever been a team named that pleases everyone, for the most part I do agree with the management, that this side ticks the boxes.
The pack looks formidable with Franco Mostert being included at 7, offering the Boks a 4th stellar lineout option after Eben, Lood and Jasper Wiese. Whilst there is just cause for the inclusion of Evan Roos at the back of the scrum, he has not had much exposure to the Bok set up and will surely get his chance in the coming weeks and Jasper has been building a steady tally of caps as the understudy. The starting forwards are going to do what they always do, slow poison the opposition and wear them down through direct physicality.
In the backline, Elton starts at 10 and Damian Willemse at 15 in an otherwise uncontentious selection of players. Elton has been training with the side for over a month now and may be short on game time, but will surely be physically primed with his pro-longed pre-season. Pollard only arrived late in the week and will likely return to the selection frame next week. Willemse has been sublime for the Stormers this season and earns a well deserved start, however I am not convinced it should have been at 15. He was the best 12 in the URC and although he can play in the last line of defense, we have plenty of other options there that need experience.
You can count on the combination of Damian De Allende and Lukhanyo Am punching holes in the Welsh defense and as the game wears on, the flying duo of Mapimpi and Kolbe will look to wreak havoc on the outside. They will have the work cut out for them though as Wales boast two B & I Lions out wide as well as at fullback if Liam Williams gets the nod.
As it often does, the 'Bomb Squad' will prove the difference here. Wales have a long injury list, but that doesn't mean they aren't going to field a solid starting XV. There will be talent all over the park and lead by Dan Biggar and Alun Wynn Jones, they will know how to rise to the occasion. It is in the latter stages of the game that the struggles will come. Playing at altitude will be their first hurdle to overcome, after that it will be the increased intensity of the Bok pack when they make use of their 6-2 split. Wales have a number of inexperienced front rowers on this tour and they will be up against it.
Coming off the bench will be the ridiculous talent and power of Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff and Vincent Koch. If that wasn't enough to handle, the breakdown threat of Kwagga Smith and Elrigh Louw will be buzzing to get stuck in at the breakdown and kill off any momentum the Welsh side may have at that stage. Whilst the remainder is rounded off with Salmaan Moerat, Herschel Jantjies and Willie Le Roux, with the last two knowing all to well how to close out games.
I predict a 16 point win for the Boks in this test, if you think I am wrong, why not join us on Superbru? You can win some great prizes with the Rugby Ball Light SA and compete against the whole Punt-it team. Join us using the pool code: EDITSWAB
Lood de Jager
Faf de Klerk
Damian De Allende
Willie Le Roux