The form of Springbok captain Siya Kolisi will come into sharp focus when South Africa clash with neighbours Namibia in the city of Toyota on Saturday in their second Rugby World Cup (RWC).
Kolisi is yet to fully come up to speed on the fitness front after injury ruled him out of the latter part of Super Rugby.
He has been nursed back from injury but he is yet to reach fitness levels that will enable him to play with the intensity he is known for.
He did not play in the Rugby Championship but came off the bench in the RWC warm-up game against Argentina at Loftus and did the same in the warm-up against Japan in Kumagaya before being withdrawn from battle after only 50 minutes last week against the All Blacks of New Zealand.
In his absence last week‚ Duane Vermeulen was the most vocal figure in the Bok team but the burly No 8 appeared to assume a strong leadership role even with the tour captain on the pitch.
Kolisi will be deployed in the role of substitute against Namibia‚ and with coach Rassie Erasmus in full anticipation of a fast paced match‚ the flank is likely to see around half an hour of game time.
Having lost to the All Blacks in their opening match‚ the Boks will now have to deploy what they deem to be their full strength team against Italy next week.
By the time that encounter comes around‚ Kolisi must be able to play a full match especially with the potential explosive quarter-final against Ireland looming around the corner.
To be fair‚ Kolisi shouldn’t be the only Springbok hoping to prove a point.
The defeat to the All Blacks‚ although not catastrophic‚ did reveal areas in which the Boks need improvement if they are going to be serious challengers at the business end of the tournament.
They need to be more ruthless in attack and Namibia should provide them the space and time to give expression to their attacking instincts.
Scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies‚ right wing S’bu Nkosi and centre Frans Steyn may play themselves into wider consideration with good performances in the African derby.
Jantjies may be in the embryonic phase of his international career but a sharp incisive display against Namibia may give coach Erasmus due cause for weighing up Faf de Klerk’s status as the leading scrumhalf in the group.
Ditto for Nkosi on the wing where Makazole Mapimpi fell short of the mark against the All Blacks.
Steyn‚ although occupying the No12 jersey against Namibia may be considered as a starter at fullback in the knock out stages of the tournament.
The All Blacks’ tactical kicking was superior last weekend and Steyn’s may help restore the balance at the tail end of the tournament.
Johan Tromp; Chad Plato‚ JC Greyling‚ Peter John Walters‚ Lesley Klim; Cliven Loubser‚ Eugene Jantjies; Adriaan Booysen‚ Muharua Katjijeko‚ Thomasau Forbes; Tjiuee Uanivi (captain)‚ Johan Retief; AJ De Klerk‚ Louis van der Westhuizen‚ Desiderius Sethie.
Obert Nortje‚ Andre Rademeyer‚ Johannes Coetzee‚ Prince Gaoseb‚ Janco Venter; Wian Conradie‚ Helarius Axasman Kisting‚ Johan Deysel.
Warrick Gelant; S’bu Nkosi‚ Lukhanyo Am‚ Frans Steyn‚ Makazole Mapimpi; Elton Jantjies‚ Herschel Jantjies; Schalk Brits (captain)‚ Francois Louw‚ Kwagga Smith; Lood de Jager‚ RG Snyman; Vincent Koch‚ Bongi Mbonambi‚ Tendai Mtawarira.
Steven Kitshoff‚ Thomas du Toit‚ Eben Etzebeth‚ Siya Kolisi‚ Franco Mostert; Cobus Reinach‚ Damian de Allende‚ Cheslin Kolbe. Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France) Assistant referees: Nic Berry (Australia)‚ Andrew Brace (Ireland) TMO: Graham Hughes (England) Kick-off: 11.45 (SA time)
BY LIAM DEL CARME- TimesLIVE
Source: TMG Digital