First Springbok starts for Gelant and Du Preez
Coetzee brushes aside talk this could be his last Test — he has a dragon to slay
Cardiff — The rumour mill is in overdrive but Allister Coetzee does not have time to dwell on the fact that Saturday’s Test against Wales may be his last in charge of the Springboks.
He has a dragon to slay and there simply is no time to ponder such diversions‚ yet.
"If you want a good holiday‚ you must earn it‚" he said‚ sounding remarkably like one of his predecessors‚ Peter de Villiers. "This week has been like any other Test week. You have to make sure preparations are in place."
Part of the preparation is assembling a team that can beat Wales on home soil. The last two Bok teams failed.
Like Wales earlier in the day‚ Coetzee on Thursday made five changes to his starting team. Having made his debut off the bench last week‚ Warrick Gelant now finds himself in a Springbok starting line-up.
Gelant will be on the wing in the place of Courtnall Skosan, who drops from the match 23.
Loosehead Tendai Mtawarira has not recovered from a quad injury and his place goes to Steven Kitshoff. In the backrow Dan du Preez comes in for his first start in place of Duane Vermeulen‚ while Siya Kolisi replaces Francois Louw.
It is Gelant’s elevation, however, that has Coetzee slightly giddy. "I’m really excited to see him start. This is a great opportunity for Warrick. He has performed consistently. Last year’s injury set him back. He is also an X-factor player. He understands both positions [wing and fullback]. He is an astute kicker for a winger and he spots space."
There would have been talk of him possibly including Gelant at the expense of fullback Andries Coetzee‚ but the coach defended his namesake.
"Andries is an underrated player. He has a low error rate. You need that kind of consistency. He has two wingers that can spark."
In the pack, Coetzee was forced into changing his front and back rows. There had been concern about the fitness of Mtawarira, who was forced from the field in Padua.
This will be the second Test he misses in 2017 after he, under slightly mysterious circumstances, was given time off for the Newlands Test against the All Blacks in October. As on that occasion‚ his place goes to Steven Kitshoff.
In the other front row change, Malcolm Marx returns to the middle of the scrum.
On the bench, there is movement too. "We used Uzair Cassiem on firmer fields earlier in the year‚" said Coetzee about the Cheetahs man.
Scrumhalf Louis Schreuder and centre Lukhanyo Am, who are both uncapped, also feature among the replacements.
"You have to give players opportunity. We want to know if they can play at this level. They can contribute at this level‚" said Coetzee.