17 August 2018

South Africa: Marco Ready to Take His Place in Bok Juggernaut

The Springbok pack that will start Saturday's Rugby Championship clash against Argentina at Kings Park is not lacking in firepower.

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Much of that has to do with the return of Malcolm Marx , Eben Etzebeth and Francois Louw .

Having those three players back, with their pedigree and experience, immediately turns this Springbok forwards unit into one that can compete with any in the world.

With Louw's ability on the ground, Etzebeth's brute force and Marx's combination of both, the Boks can feel optimistic of their chances in dominating a physical Pumas pack in Durban.

There is also the calm of Tendai Mtawarira , the inspiration of leader Siya Kolisi in his new role at No 7 and another return in speedy, crafty No 8 Warren Whiteley .

Pieter-Steph du Toit , meanwhile, reunites with Etzebeth in the second row to form a lock pairing that, on paper, should overpower their South American opponents on Saturday.

For all the firepower in the starting 15, there is the exuberance of youth in the form of Marco van Staden on the bench.

Coach Rassie Erasmus is a massive fan.

Erasmus wanted to start the 22-year-old Bull in the No 6 jersey in the first Test against England back in June, but injury struck just before the international break and Van Staden was ruled out of the series.

Now he has his chance.

Erasmus has also been excited about the prospect of Van Staden and Louw playing in the same side together, and while that could happen on Saturday, it is unlikely.

Van Staden will probably replace Louw.

"Francois Louw is coming off a six or seven-week pre-season so he might struggle to go 80 minutes," Erasmus explained from the team hotel in Umhlanga on Thursday.

"It depends where we struggle and where we go well, but it is possible that they can play together."

If they do play together, it would be if Whiteley was substituted in a move that would see Louw move to No 8.

Either way, Erasmus is expecting a titanic battle at the breakdown. But, with his arsenal, he is also expecting to come out on top.

"I think (referee) Ben O' Keefe will have a tough one at the breakdown on Saturday. We're definitely going to go hard at the breakdown as will the Argentineans," said Erasmus.

"They bite at every second or third breakdown really hard, and on both sides of the breakdown, on defence and attack.

"With what we have, I think we'll be okay."

Turning his attention to Van Staden, Erasmus is expecting an energetic display.

"Defensively, he can make turnovers. But let's see if he can do that at Test match level," the coach said.

"I think he'll play very much like Flo, just with more of an engine and a bit younger."

Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:05 .

Teams:

South Africa

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Makazole Mapimpi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Siya Kolisi (captain), 6 Francois Louw, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Lionel Mapoe, 23 Damian Willemse

Argentina

15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Bautista Ezcurra, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Agustin Creevy (captain), 1 Nahuel Tetaz ChaparroSubstitutes: 16 Diego Fortuny, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Tomas Lavanini, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Juan Cruz Mallia

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