Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus might have one selection poser solved when his team takes on Scotland this weekend with No 8 Warren Whiteley in doubt for the clash.
The Lions No 8 sustained a calf injury during last Saturday’s 29-26 win over France in Paris and has been put on the “probably not” list for this weekend.
If Whiteley‚ who was below par against Les Bleus‚ is ruled out‚ it will allow a potential return to No 8 for Duane Vermeulen, with Pieter-Steph du Toit moving back to blindside flank. With Siya Kolisi completing the loose trio‚ it is a formation that has more balance.
Kolisi had a quiet game by his standards and this could be a chance for Erasmus to rest the skipper, thereby allowing a start for Francois Louw‚ who made two vital steals in the final minutes in Paris.
Eben Etzebeth is expected to be fit for selection this weekend after overcoming a foot injury‚ which would compensate for Pieter-Steph’s move back to the side of the scrum.
The Boks lost their opening match on tour against England — their second consecutive defeat against the Roses following the third Test defeat in June.
As a result of the 12-11 setback at Twickenham‚ Erasmus made three key changes for last week’s match against France. But now that the Boks have winning momentum again‚ he hinted that he would not be making big changes to the team against Scotland.
“Warren has a calf injury and I would say he is doubtful for Saturday‚” said Erasmus.
“Vincent Koch and Frans Malherbe both have some bumps and we will be cautious with them‚ but I think they will be fit to play.”
Erasmus said the Springboks can brace themselves for a very tough match against Scotland. The Scots beat Fiji 54-17 at home over the weekend.
He said Gregor Townsend‚ Scotland coach “is someone I’ve coached against during my time with Munster.
“I know how he coaches and his style of coaching. His teams are always very fit and organised in all facets of the game.
“Scotland play more like a Super Rugby/southern hemisphere style.
“They are not afraid to attack from anywhere and the weather is set to be dry‚ so that will help. There are a lot of Glasgow players in their team and that’s why I know it’s going to be tough on Saturday at Murrayfield.”
Erasmus admitted that his side made many mistakes against France and were fortunate to come away with a win thanks to a try from hooker Bongi Mbonambi four minutes after time was up.
“We made some poor decisions against France – and that includes me – and our balance about when we needed to kick and when to attack wasn’t quite there‚” Erasmus said.
“Perhaps it was because prior to the France match we had lost our previous two games and we maybe had some tunnel vision at times.
“Results can sometimes blur your measurement of improvement. There were about four Tests this year where we were down and out and there is belief that we can always come back.
“But it would be nice to lead from the outset for a change.”