With the Boks having lost outside centre Jesse Kriel to concussion, Zelim Nel and Tank Lanning weigh in on the debate as to how best to solve this latest conundrum.
Zelím says: Keep it simple, stupid. Frans Steyn in, Jan Serfontein to outside centre.
Why are we even talking about this? It’s a misnomer why Frans Steyn and/or Francois Hougaard didn’t start in Pretoria. Why bring these two stalwarts back from Europe only to bench them for lesser established options?
I know, I know – I shouldn’t be trying to use logic or reason to explain Springbok selections, but seriously…
Jesse Kriel’s withdrawal now gives Allister Coetzee a no-brainer opportunity to fix that oversight without bumbling spin.
With 54 Test caps, Steyn is the third-most capped player in the Springbok squad. He’s a World Cup winner, he weighs in at “110kgs”, and he’s back from five seasons in the Top 14 where he competed against the players who will line up for France on Saturday.
That means he will not only radically increase the size and experience in the Bok backline, but he’ll have specific intell on Les Bleus.
The bonus ball is that he kicks like a mule which will take some of the heat off of Ross Cronje (who kicked all of two times at Loftus), Hougaard (yet to calibrate the sights on his hunting boot) and Elton Jantjies.
And then there’s Serfontein who some believe is better suited to the No 13 jersey which he wore when the Boks won at Twickenham in 2014.
There has been talk of promoting Lionel Mapoe from outside the matchday squad directly into the vacancy, but he was less impressive than wet fireworks for the Boks last year.
Start Steyn, bump Serfontein outside and promote Mapoe to the bench.
Tank says: The Boks are quite clearly on a red and white bus singing the Lion King Theme tune – and it worked out pretty well in Pretoria – so why change tack?
Lionel Mapoe is the obvious replacement for Jesse Kriel.
The other options are to bring in Frans Steyn at 12, or Francois Venter at 13. The latter has not been part of the Bok squad this year, while the former requires a double switch, and robs the Boks of a fantastic impact player who can cover multiple positions on the bench.
And to be honest, with the Boks set to continue with a kicking game onto a French side with a penetration rate similar to my alcoholic 84 year old grandfather missing his Viagra tabs, all the Boks are looking for is someone who can chase and tackle.
Mapoe has made 76 of the 92 tackles asked of him in Super Rugby, with 4 of them being dominant. Similar numbers to Kriel, and better than Serfontein (44 out of 60).
With 7 tackle breaks and 11 offloads, if and when the Boks do decide to strike, he is the man who could be used to bring Skosan and Rhule into the game a little more.
His selection would also then free Allister Coetzee up to make a change at loose forward, where I would move Siya Kolisi to 7 and bring in Jaco Kriel in as the ball of muscle at 6. Kriel is not an out and out fetcher, but then neither are Kolisi or Oupa Mohoje, and Kriel gives the trio a better balance.
Weird when a midfield selection can affect the loose forwards, but that is the tightrope coach Coetzee walks as SA Rugby try and right the wrongs of the past while in the political spotlight.
Disagree? Agree? Think the two of them should be in strait jackets at some nut farm? Have your say in the comments section below. Let the banter flow people …