After a nail-biting encounter against France, Rassie Erasmus has some big calls to make with his team selection against Scotland before facing a higher ranked Welsh side that just beat Australia.
While the loss to England means that there is more pressure to get a good result when the Springboks meet the Scot’s, Erasmus should remain aware that realistically, the match offers the last real chance to change up the team and test out a few more options.
How to set the pack up?
The big factor for the pack this week will be the eligibility of Eben Etzebeth. Piet-Steph du Toit has started at lock in the absence of first Mostert and then Etzebeth but has struggled to make the impact he did whilst on the blind-side.
If Erasmus opts to keep PSDT on the flank, then this could give room for a first test start for RG Snyman. Given the early substitution, it would seem likely that Duane Vermeulen will wear the number eight on Saturday at the expense of Whiteley who would be hard done by to be left out of the squad given his consistency.
Siya Kolisi will surely remain in the starting birth although on the back of two mediocre performances and after the impact that Francois Louw had against France, the pressure will be on the Bok captain to regain his impressive form from earlier this year.
The front row will remain the same as it probably should although Bongi Mbonambi has showed that he is not there to occupy a space on the bench and deserves more game time and will hopefully get a 60 minute run on.
Backline shuffle due
The backline was very poor throughout the French fixture and as such, there definitely warrants a shuffle going into the Scotland match.
Faf de Klerk played the full 80 minutes despite a poor showing and Embrose Papier continued to be the only unused player on the bench. For a player who has the talent, it is not doing his confidence any good being made to watch every game from the bench knowing he will not be involved.
Ivan van Zyl has had two starts and not made the most of them and I think it is only fair that Papier is afforded the same opportunity with de Klerk on the bench.
After two impressive showings off the bench, Elton Jantjies has done a lot to earn a start at 10 with Handre Pollard moving into inside centre. We have seen the combination in Wellington where Jantjies played a big role in the winning try whilst the two have looked good next to each other over the last two weekends.
Damian de Allende was poor again and so this is the perfect time to see what playing two decision makers next to each other can offer the team. Australia are successfully doing it with Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale and so there is no reason why we can’t at least try it from the start. Not to mention the fact it gives the team two goal kicking options and a right and left footed combination which is very handy.
I would remain with the same back three because while Cheslin Kolbe made a good run, Sbu Nkosi and Aphiwe Dyantyi remain the best two wings in the country in my opinion and need as much experience as possible before the World Cup.
My only other change would be to give Ruhan Nel a start at 13 wat the expense of Jesse Kriel who continues to be solid enough but nothing special and a tendency to be quite lateral at time. Nel offers a good skillset and some directness and with Pollard at 12, Nel and the wings would get plenty of ball which would be great to see.
Unfortunately, the weather in Europe will always make a massive impact on selections and game plan. The wet on Saturday saw the Boks try deploying a tactical kicking display which we have seen fail time and time again.
On Saturday, the Boks should regardless of the weather keep more ball in hand. Whether it is to keep it within the forwards and nice and tight in wet conditions or try being a bit more expansive in drier conditions, we have learnt that tactical kicking is not a strength of ours.
Erasmus has a difficult decision to make. He is under immense pressure to produce a dominant display and get a good result, but a low ranked Scotland side should still be seen as the last chance to try a few new things before the World Cup next year.