One thinks of a player whose strong as a carrier, has some pace, can hit players back in the tackle and steal the ball on the ground
WILL Allister Coetzee go back to the tried and tested in Francois Louw or will he be bold and pick a local man to fill the shoes of Jaco Kriel?
That is the burning question ahead of the Springbok coach naming his squad for the two home Rugby Championship Tests against Australia in Bloemfontein and the All Blacks in Cape Town in the next few weeks.
Kriel, who formed such a formidable flank combination with Siya Kolisi, has been ruled out of the rest of the competition and in fact will be out for the next six months with a shoulder injury.
The Lions man underwent surgery recently and is expected back only after Super Rugby has started next season. Kolisi last weekend was joined by Jean-Luc du Preez and Uzair Cassiem in the back row, but after being put on their backsides by the All Blacks, Coetzee will think long and hard about the make-up of his loose-trio for the last two Tests in the Championship.
He hinted on Sunday evening on the team’s return from New Zealand that veteran Louw could possibly come into the mix, but he also said he’d first look internally at who could play the type of role Kriel did.
One thinks of a player who’s strong as a carrier, has some pace, can hit players back in the tackle and steal ball on the ground. There are not too many around.
Chris Cloete, who was such a menace for the Kings earlier this year and is playing for the Pumas, fits the mould, and he’d bring some mongrel to the Bok pack, while Kwagga Smith also has some X-factor about him.
But Bath-based Louw appears to be Coetzee’s go-to man. He’d come in with a wealth of experience and real leadership qualities and would also add some muscle up front.
Kriel was not the only one to miss the All Blacks Test. Prop Coenie Oosthuizen was a non-starter after crying off with a broken arm, so expect Wilco Louw, who flew to Auckland last week to only provide cover, to get a proper look-in against the Wallabies. And it’ll be hoped that scrumhalf Ross Cronjé will be fit and healthy again after sitting out last weekend with stomach flu.
It will be interesting to see who of the touring group remains in the squad and who gets the boot, if anyone at all.
Coetzee’s certainly not expected to change much from the group that has played regularly up to now – he’s already stated that the Albany loss was a one-off – but he may be forced to bring in some reinforcements among the backs, especially after the defensive cracks and the lack of attacking spark and flair last weekend.