22 June 2018

South Africa: Opportunity Beckons for Highly-Rated Gelant

The word "opportunity" is one that is becoming synonymous with the Rassie Erasmus era.

It is early days yet, but the Bok coach has already dished out 16 debuts in his three Test matches in charge.

That number is obviously somewhat skewed by the youthful side he sent to America to take on Wales at the beginning of the month, but Erasmus has been vocal on the fact that he will be trying new players and new combinations all the way through until the World Cup in Japan next year.

2-0 up against England, Erasmus must have been tempted to show faith in the same players who have done the business so far in the series for Saturday's third and final Test at Newlands.

The prospect of beating Eddie Jones' side 3-0 is a tantalising one for the Boks, but Erasmus picked his side with a bigger picture in mind.

All over the park, there are players who have been given another opportunity to shine in a Bok jersey.

Chiliboy Ralepelle starts at hooker despite Bongi Mbonambi having been impressive, Elton Jantjies gets another crack at flyhalf with Handre Pollard taking a breather, there is a brand-new centre pairing in Andre Esterhuizen and Jesse Kriel while Warrick Gelant starts at fullback despite Willie le Roux having been one of the form players for the Boks so far in the series.

Then, on the bench, 21-year-old Embrose Papier is also given another Test.

It is Gelant, though, who many Bok fans will be most excited to see.

With Andries Coetzee having struggled to make the Bok No 15 jersey his own in 2017, Gelant began to build up a cult following of those who wanted to see his naturally attacking game included in the Bok set-up.

His only Test start to date was on the wing in the final Test of last year against Wales, but he now has an opportunity to show Erasmus and South Africa what he can bring to fullback.

"Warrick is a guy that has been knocking on the door for some time and has been consistently performing for the Bulls," said Erasmus.

"We all know what Warrick can do with ball in hand and he is clearance kicking is excellent.

"He is very accurate on his left and right foot and you don't get that so often these days."

Erasmus explained that Le Roux's experience had counted in his favour in the first two Tests due to the fact that the Boks were fielding two debutant wingers.

Now, though, Gelant has his chance.

While his speed and skill are obvious standouts, the weather in Cape Town this weekend could make things a bit trickier.

"The nice thing is that, if it's wet, we'll learn a lot about him," Erasmus said.

"If it's dry we'll have a typical Warrick Gelant performance and if it's wet we'll see how he handles it, and if he doesn't handle it we'll go afterwards and work on it.

"If we have to change it we can put Willie on, who knows wet weather, but hopefully if it is wet he (Gelant) swims well."

Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:05.

Teams:

South Africa

15 Warrick Gelant, 14 S'bu Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Jean-Luc du Preez, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Embrose Papier 22 Handre Pollard, 23 Willie le Roux

England

15 Elliot Daly, 14 Jonny May, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Owen Farrell (captain), 11 Mike Brown, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 Maro Itoje, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Joe Marler

Substitutes: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Jonny Hill, 20 Mark Wilson, 21 Sam Simmonds, 22 Ben Spencer, 23 Denny Solomona

Source: Sport24

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