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Springbok fringe players must impress against Argentina get a look into World Cup spot

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Looking at the squad for this weekend’s action, nearly all will go to France, but what is certainly up for grabs are positions in the match-23 for the kick-off against Scotland.

Springboks player Kurt-Lee Arendse at the team announcement conference.
Kurt-Lee Arendse is a player who can secure his place at the World Cup with a strong performance against Argentina. Photo: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

The Rugby World Cup will get considerably more real for the Springboks after they complete their Rugby Championship schedule at Ellis Park against Argentina tomorrow (kick-off 5.05pm).

It is the last action on home soil for Jacques Nienaber’s men, and also a step closer to the big squad announcement on August 8.

That is the date when the chosen 33 for France 2023 will be revealed, and it means there is everything to play for on Saturday for the players who are on the periphery.

The Boks play a friendly against the Pumas in Buenos Aries and then they head north of the equator for the rest of the year.

There is a warm-up against Wales in Cardiff, a showdown with the All Blacks at Twickenham, a short camp on the island of Corsica and then the big World Cup kick-off against Scotland on September 10.

Looking at the squad for this weekend’s action, nearly all will go to France, but what is certainly up for grabs are positions in the match-23 for the kick-off against Scotland.

You would have to think that Kurt-Lee Arendse is one good showing away from deposing Makazole Mapimpi on the left wing; Malcolm Marx will empty the tank on his old home ground to try and change the thinking that he must be the impact player and Bongi Mbonambi the starter.

And if flyhalf Manie Libbok has another cracker, it is possible that he will leapfrog Handré Pollard.

Libbok’s halfback partner Grant Williams has a golden opportunity to make ground on the other scrumhalves.

The Boks have an embarrassment of riches in the position and somebody is going to be disappointed on August 8 – there is Williams, Faf de Klerk, Cobus Reinach, Jaden Hendrikse and Herschel Jantjies.

The second row is another area where Nienaber has handsome options. Marvin Orie gets a start alongside Eben Etzebeth, and the former knows this is his time to shine.

Openside flank Marco van Staden can also entrench his status in the team after an outstanding display against the Wallabies a few weeks ago.

As for coach Nienaber, this match is his last in charge of the Boks on South African soil.

“I am not a very emotional person, but the first time I remember coaching the Springboks at any level was in 2004, when I was part of the SA ‘A’ team that went to Argentina,” Nienaber reflected this week.

“The first time I worked with the senior team was in 2011. You work so hard and you believe that someday you can be lucky enough to be involved with one Test, and if things really go well, perhaps you can go to a World Cup.

“For me personally, to be a part of three World Cups, is unbelievable. It is a dream.

“I should have just been a physio in Bloemfontein. It is more than a dream that has come true in my life.

“I told the players it is personal for me to coach them and to work with them. It is lekker to work for them.

“They make me happy. It is going to be somewhat emotional, but it is not to say that it will be the last time. You never know what might happen in the future.”

TEAMS

Springboks starting XV:

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Manie Libbok, 9, Grant Williams; 8 Duane Vermeulen (capt), 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff.

Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Kwagga Smith, 20 RG Snyman, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Lukhanyo Am, 23 Damian Willemse.

Argentina starting XV:

15 Juan Cruz Mallia, 14 Matteo Carreras, 13 Lucio Cinti, 12 Santiago Chocobares, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Lautaro Bazan Velez; 8 Juan Martin Gonzales, 7 Santiago Grondona, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Lucas Paulos, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Julian Montoya (capt), 1 Thomas Gallo.

Replacements: 16 Ignacio Ruiz, 17 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 18 Joel Sclav,i 19 Pedro Rubiolo, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Tomas Albornoz, 23 Matias Moroni.

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