14 September 2017

South Africa: Inexperience Not an Issue for Boks - Coetzee

The Springboks have just two backline players with more than 20 Test caps for Saturday's Rugby Championship clash against the All Blacks in Albany.

They are centres Jan Serfontein (32) and Jesse Kriel (22), but there is certainly a feeling of the 'new' that accompanies this Bok outfit.

Even in the pack, there are just three players with 20 caps or more.

Siya Kolisi (20), Eben Etzebeth (60) and Tendai Mtawarira (93) are the leaders among the forwards, but that leaves a total of 10 starters for Saturday who could still be considered relatively 'green' in their international careers.

The back three, in particular, is considered an area where the Boks lack experience with Andries Coetzee, Raymond Rhule and Courtnall Skosan having six caps each - all of those coming this year.

That was a brand new combination for the Springboks for the first June Test against France this year and, while there have been concerns over the physicality of that trio and the ability of the two wings under high ball, coach Allister Coetzee is happy with what he has seen from the so far this international season.

"Our players might be inexperienced in terms of number of Test caps, but they've been seasoned Super Rugby players for a while now," he said after announcing his team on Thursday.

"If you look at their ages, they are also mature blokes.

"A guy like Andries Coetzee has traveled the hard road in rugby, through club rugby and a lot of provincial rugby.

"I'm pleased with the decisions they make under pressure more than the number of Test caps they have.

"We've had six Tests to look at it and I'm happy with where they are, the back three, in terms of how they work in tandem with that cover rotation. There is a synergy there and that combination is more what I'm looking at."

The starting back three in last year's 41-13 loss to the All Blacks in Christchurch saw Johan Goosen at fullback with Bryan Habana and Francois Hougaard on the wings.

In fact, there are only four starters from last year's fixture who will also start on Saturday. Only Elton Jantjies, Kriel, Etzebeth and Mtawarira started that match, and Coetzee believes that to be a good thing. "We've buried 2016 as deep as possible and we've moved on," Coetzee said. "It's completely a different team environment with different individuals. The mindset is completely different."The Boks last won in New Zealand in 2009 under the mentorship of Peter de Villiers, but Coetzee is not feeling any weight of expectation. "That's history, my mate," he said. "There is nothing we can do about that, but we always look at new opportunities and we're excited about Saturday. "It's a great Test to be a part of ... playing the All Blacks in New Zealand. We've prepared as best we can and it comes down to the 80 on Saturday."Kick-off is at 09:35. Teams: New Zealand 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Kane HamesSubstitutes: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown South Africa 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Handre Pollard, 23 Damian de Allende

Source: Sport24

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