Huge battle up front and a fast finish? Dissecting of the Springboks and Wallabies line ups

Huge battle up front and a fast finish? Dissecting of the Springboks and Wallabies line ups

The Springboks and Wallabies face off at Ellis Park for the first time in almost 11 years with the Wallabies going in search of their first win at the iconic stadium since 1963.


Saturday's test will be both sides first test match of the year in the build to the world cup and both head coaches have made some intriguing selections.

Rassie Erasmus opted to rest a number of his frontline players, who jumped on a plane and headed to New Zealand ahead of the rest of the squad, including the likes of Malcolm Marx, Faf de Klerk, Steven Kishoff and Handre Pollard to name a few. 

Michael Cheika's side has been hit with a few injuries with Scott Sio, Christian Lealiifano and Tom Robertson all ruled out through injury while Marika Koroibete, Rob Valetini and Jack Maddocks were sent home earlier this week.

The Springboks plan:

The Springbok pack is renowned for being physical and abrasive and this pack is no different with Erasmus effectively naming four second rowers in his starting line up with Pieter-Steph du Toit and Rhynhardt Elstadt starting their careers in the second row.

Judging by Erasmus' pack his side will look to dominate possession and outmuscle the Wallabies up front, effectively tiring the Wallabies pack out on the Highveld.

The Springboks physicality doesn't stop in the pack with Jesse Kriel and Andre Esterhuizen pairing up in the midfield with both players hard running centres.

Once Erasmus starts ringing the changes, the Wallabies won't be let off with the power of Lizo Gqoboka, Vincent Koch, Marcell Coetzee and Marvin Orie likely to maintain the intensity. 

It's not all brunt for the Boks with halfback pairing Herschel and Elton Jantjies (no relation) both possessing the ability to ignite the attack and get in-form winger Makazole Mapimpi into space and he will be able to finish even the slightest chance that comes his way.

There are a few weaknesses in the starting line up with the Springboks playing without an out and out openside flanker. Their back row might be slower to the rucks and the likes of Michael Hooper could punish the Boks here.

There is a risk with the starting halfbacks as Elton Jantjies has failed to step up at times for the Springboks while Herschel Jantjies is untested at this level. 

Erasmus does have a solid 'plan b' on the bench with the in-form Cobus Reinach able to spark the Springboks in the latter stages of the game while Dilly Leyds and Frans Steyn are no strangers to the #10 jersey.

Conclusion: The Springboks will look to tire the Wallabies out in the first hour at Ellis Park before they look to run away with the game with the impact of their powerful bench.

The Wallabies plan:

Michael Cheika looks to have named a pack with the ability to match the Springboks up front. He has, however, been dealt a blow with Tom Robertson and Scott Sio withdrawing, both of which would have been in the mix to start this weekend.

Cheika has been forced to move away from the Hooper-Pocock back row with the latter sidelined through injury. He has brought in young loose forward Isi Naisarani in what looks like more of a balanced back row with Lukhan Salakaia-Loto.

In the backs, Cheika has stuck with Bernard Foley at flyhalf with Christian Leali'ifano out injured and may have reacted to the Springbok centre pairing by naming an equally abrasive centre combination of Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kurdrani.

Kurtley Beale may have been in the running for the #12 and #15 jersey earlier in the week but the utility back finds a spot on the bench covering 10,12 and 15.

Beale, Genia and Toomua provide Cheika with a nice safety net as well as three potential game-changers in the closing moments of the game.

Tom Banks fills Israel Folau's old jersey after an outstanding season with the Brumbies and Cheika has given the young Brumby some support with two fullbacks on the wings in Dane Haylett-Petty and Reece Hodge.

The plus of having Hodge in the side is that Rebel's placekicking could get pushed back as far as 60+ metres on the Highveld.

Finally, Cheika has preferred Nic White to his go to no.9 Will Genia this weekend, presumably to put the Springboks under pressure with his excellent kicking game which also bodes well with two fullbacks on the wing.

Conclusion: The Wallabies will look to front up and match the Boks up front but still have something left in the tank for the closing moments of the game.

The way the two sides have lined, the old cliche of 'the game will be won up front' does seem to apply but this game could also come down to which side makes the least mistakes with a number of new faces and combinations. The Wallabies could punish the Springboks in the air while the Springboks could outmuscle the Wallabies up front

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