The Springboks have made a number of changes to the side for their return clash with the Wallabies this weekend. Some due to rotation, most necessitated by injuries. Many of the changes should bring about positive results this weekend, however some areas of concern remain.
Damian Willemse has been instilled at flyhalf due to injuries to both Handre and Elton. This is quite an exciting move however as Willemse has proven to be a stand out for the Green & Gold this season playing at fullback, center and even at 10 in the second half of the first test against Wales. Whilst there is no doubting this is a stop-gap measure at this point, he does possess all the necessary skills to make a success out of it. He brings a lot to the position that has probably been missing for just shy of a year.
"And that's what he needs to bring to this game. We're always telling the players that there is a broad game-plan that has to be followed, but you have the freedom to stamp your own authority on it.
Willemse ignited the Springbok backline at Loftus from 10 and he combined so well with Willie Le Roux at 15 that it not only brought the Bokke back into the game, but ensured that they won it with a clutch kick from the 24 year old at the death. I fully back Willemse to come through for the Springboks this weekend, if he does it may also silence me and many other critics with regards to the depth issues in this crucial position.
I am also pleased to see Willie le Roux selected at 15. Playing a more cursory role this season than the 76 test Bok would have been used to, he has excelled in every instance, once injected into the game from the bench. He performed exceedingly well against Wales and also scored a try to burry the All Blacks officially in Mbombela. Willie's experience will prove vital in the development of teenager Canan Moodie who makes his debut this weekend.
In the loose trio, I have spoken a lot previously about Franco Mostert and how I don't believe he is suited to the role of flank. I do however note that his selection there is likely to ensure a 3rd lineout option in the absence of PSDT. Duane and Kwagga are likely to come on together and Duane can then fulfill that role in the latter stages. Had this not been necessary, a start for Smith would surely have been a must. The return of Jasper Wiese at 8 is also long overdue, he should have been there for the last two tests had sentiment not played any role.
The front row also sees a healthy injection of power as Kitshoff, Marx and Malherbe all earn starts together for the first time in ages. They will need to hit the scrum pushing though if they are to stem the momentum given to the Wallabies a week earlier and the effort of rebuilding the Bok packs aura must begin with them. The cover of Deon Fourie on the bench is also an exciting addition as he has been incredible for the Stormers and his fetching ability will likely help slow the Aussie momentum when he turns out.
At scrumhalf, Faf De Klerk has dropped out of the side as his hand recovers from a close shave with Nick Whites moustache on the back of an under par season for the Boks premier 9. Jayden Hendrikse gets another shot at leading the Boks and will be backed up on the bench by the ever so pacey Cobus Reinach, a player I am very eager to see back on the field.
The biggest concern for this game will be the Boks defense and Jessie Kriel will have his work cut out for him in this department. If they can hold the Wallabies out, this side may just have enough fire power to earn the first win for the Boks down under since 2013.