Springboks need to find balance amongst the forwards ahead of English test

BY MARC JACOBSON - NOVEMBER 9, 2016

The Springboks will be relishing a chance for redemption after a significantly rocky season ahead their test encounter against England at Twickenham this Saturday.

Prior to this match, England have heeded much form after their shock World Cup fall out last year, with an unbeaten five out of five win ratio in the Six Nations, followed by wins against Wales and then a three out of three test series win against Australia on the Wallabies’ home soil.

England will, thus, be licking their lips heading into the game with a nine-match winning streak from this year so far; while South Africa have looked contrastingly impressive. So far this year, South Africa has won only four out of their nine matches, including humiliating losses against New Zealand on both occasions.

History, however, leans towards the Springboks, with a 12-game unbeaten streak against England – last losing 10 years ago in 2006, in Twickenham, when the hosts won 23-21. Since then, the closest England came to beating the Springboks was a 14-all draw when the two sides played in Port Elizabeth in 2012.

Regardless of the history, within the greater scheme of things and with their flourishing ascendency, England will hope to carry their continuous winning momentum throughout in this fixture.

The English have even beaten the All Blacks more recently than the Springboks, and they will too look to relish this opportunity for victory. It is expected to be a phenomenally physical encounter, with neither side lacking thereof.

Where South Africa has been run thing, however, is in their loose-forwards, especially for a specialist open-side fetcher. This comes after the Springboks suffered injuries blows to Francois Louw, Jaco Kriel and newly called-up, Roelof Smit. They have other options, but not many other fetcher options, and this will be a point of concern ahead of the clash.

Due to the physicality department being levelled out, South Africa can try capitalize on their enriched line-out ascendency, as they may start with three specialist lock or line-up jumpers on the field. This comes after Pieter-Steph du Toit could be set to start at loose-forward, with Eben Eztebeth and Lood de Jager set to pair up at lock.

In addition, Oupa Mohoje and Warren Whiteley have also frequently been utilized in line out string of duties in the past. In such a predicting physical clash, however, it is debatable as to whether Whiteley will start for the Boks, because if not anything, physicality is what he lacks the most. This in-turn accentuates the loose-forward dilemma.

On the more silver side of things, Rohan Janse van Rensburg was called into the Bok squad to replace injured Jesse Kriel, and his physicality and dynamics at midfield is certainly what South Africa can use for the better this weekend. Whether he gets selected or not, however, is another debate.

Both ways, this is a tour-defining, if not season-defining clash for the Springboks and it remains a must-win.

England and South Africa have played each other 37 times throughout history, with South Africa winning 23 and England winning 12, twice drawn. In Twickenham, South Africa have won 11 out of 20 matches against England.