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EXPERIENCE is key for Springboks

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Louw is no stranger at playing at number eight nor to being part of the same loose trio alongside Pieter-Steph du Toit and Siya Kolisi

South Africa

For all the openness and willingness to experiment and build depth, Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has quickly acquired the one key aspect in being able to beat the All Blacks, experience.

And that will be the crutch he holds on to going into tomorrow’s highly anticipated clash against the mighty All Blacks at Loftus Versfeld.

Not that his team has failed in other areas of the game but Erasmus knows that nothing trumps experience when faced with a raging All Blacks side that is seething after being knocked off their perch by the very same Springbok side they will be facing.

Erasmus’ decision to start with Francois Louw in the unfamiliar position of eighthman has everything to do with the Springboks’ lofty ambitions of recording a rare double against the number one side in the world and using all the experience at their disposal in doing so.

Without the wily experience and leadership qualities of the injured Warren Whiteley at the back of the scrum, Erasmus had to make a bold decision which included sparing Sikhumbuzo Notshe the unduly pressure of facing the hellish wrath of the All Blacks from the beginning of the game.

But there is also a sense of sanity in Erasmus’ unconventional way of doing things as he has taken a chapter out of former Bok coach Allister Coetzee’s playbook when the Springboks last faced the All Blacks on home soil in that spicy one point loss at Newlands last year.

Louw is no stranger at playing at number eight nor to being part of the same loose trio alongside Pieter-Steph du Toit and Siya Kolisi.

In the very same fixture last year, the trio faced up to the All Blacks and at times got the better of them in that abrasive encounter in Cape Town and Erasmus will be looking at more of the same from them.

Also, Erasmus has gone with almost an identical pack with Lood de Jager and Ruan Dreyer being the only missing members of that personnel that had the All Blacks sweating for a greater part of that game.

By using the same pack, Erasmus will be expecting the same intensity while the confidence and experience gained in their narrow win in Wellington would have been invaluable to the team’s state of mind going into their biggest Test of the international season.

It is with that experience in mind that Erasmus has also recalled centre Damian de Allende in the only change to his backline from last weekend’s victory against the Wallabies.

De Allende has faced the All Blacks and Sonny Bill Williams enough times in his career not to be fazed by the enormity of what stands in front of them and his growing partnership with Jesse Kriel will also bring about a sense of comfort and steadiness to a backline that is proving to be a handful on its day.

The Springboks may be reveling in their new found confidence and belief after the memorable win in Wellington but in order to build on that and finish off the competition with a bang, they will need to muster all of the experience available to them to overcome a side that has been there and done it all.