Can debutants inspire Boks to victory?


Powerhouse Lions centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg, pictured, Bulls try-master Jamba Ulengo and Cheetahs star flanker Uzair Cassiem have all been included in Allister Coetzee’s run-on side for the clash in the Principality Stadium, while Sharks loose forward Jean-Luc du Preez will add some punch from the bench.

Janse van Rensburg and Ulengo, who both featured in the Barbarians match at Wembley, take over from Damian de Allende and Bryan Habana respectively.

De Allende hasn’t come close to emulating his 2015 form, and his best bet was probably the decent try-scoring performance he produced in the Springboks' historic loss to Italy last Saturday, while Habana hasn’t exactly thrilled with jaw-dropping outings either.

Janse van Rensburg, on the other hand, has set centre stage alight this season in the Currie Cup and Super Rugby competitions. Against the Baabaas, he was also one of the standout performers.

Ulengo is another man who was on the Bulls’ opposition’s watchlist this year, and he ended his Currie Cup season as one of the top try-scorers.

Cassiem, who didn’t play against the Baabaas, will also get his Test debut after Willem Alberts was ruled out with a neck niggle.

He was one of the Cheetahs’ most influential players this season, and he wrapped up his Currie Cup campaign in style when he produced a much-deserved Man of the Match performance in the final against the Bulls in Bloemfontein.

But all that flair doesn’t end there.

Elton Jantjies will get to call the shots at flyhalf and will look to re-establish his potent half-back combination with fellow Lions man Faf de Klerk, who will start at scrumhalf in the place of Rudy Paige.

Jantjies has had a tough season in the Bok jersey - struggling to pull the strings as effortlessly as he did with the Lions, and De Klerk has also come under scrutiny for his sometimes-erratic passing and questionable decision-making with the Boks.

Johan Goosen will fill out the revamped backline when he starts at fullback.

In the other change upfront, Lourens Adriaanse comes in at tighthead in place of Vincent Koch.

With a total of 12 changes to the matchday 23, Coetzee put the much-changed side down to a combination of factors.

And after securing only four wins in 11 Tests, there’s no better time than now for the Bok boss to throw caution to the wind and experiment with his abundant resources.

“We have a less experienced team, but I want to see some energy and an improved performance. Our selection is also keeping in mind of the process and necessity to build towards 2019.”

“Jamba, Uzair and Rohan are examples of players who have forced their way into the squad through consistently performing well on the domestic scene and during training on tour, and now they are getting their opportunities to play for the Boks. Even though Damian played well against England and Italy, we felt Rohan deserved an opportunity,” Coetzee said.

Coetzee also praised Cassiem’s outstanding performances this season.

“Uzair was impressive during our domestic competitions and he was Man of the Match in the Currie Cup final. He made a good impression during the build-up to the Barbarians match and has continued to work hard on this tour since re-joining us.

Regarding the change in the front row, Coetzee added: “Lourens played well whenever he was selected and he too deserves his opportunity.”

The Springboks will go head-to-head with Wales in front of a crowd of 75 000 passionate fans. And with their track record, Coetzee has nothing left to lose.

Desperation, combined with a star-studded team sounds like an appetising treat, but let’s hope Coetzee allows his players to express themselves creatively.

Springboks Team

Starting XV: 15 Johan Goosen, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (capt), 1 Tendai Mtawarira; Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Lionel Mapoe

Original source: Can debutants inspire Boks to victory?