The long awaited clash that will define South African rugby is upon us.
And who would have ever thought Samoa would be the team the Boks will have to beat to salvage their pride and show the world that a wounded Springbok is a dangerous opponent, or implode to a probable exit of out of the 2015 Rugby World Cup if they lose.
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers understands that this is his last chance. Probably legendary lock Victor Matfield’s last opportunity as well, no matter how well they have served their country in the past.
The weight of expectation will also be on Duane Vermeulen in his first game after a long injury enforced lay off.
To be thrown into a must win game against the very physical Samoans might just what Vermeulen needs if he is to make an impact at Rugby World Cup 2015.
The other seniors in the team will also have to stand up and be counted. Bryan Habana was absent in the game against Japan, but he also wasn’t given any opportunities. Hopefully the inclusion of Willie Le Roux (who is playing per a permanent start for the Boks) will see the back line ignite against Samoa.
Fourie du Preez looked sharp against the Japanese and will give a crisp, fast service to the backs. If Du Preez is back at his best, Vermuelen and Burger are bustling up front and Pollard gives his outside backs some space out wide, the Boks could fire today.
At the very least we should see traditional Springbok rugby today – playing for territory, winning the set pieces, driving and mauling. If it doesn’t work against Samoa, we in big trouble.
A Bok loss today is just too ghastly to contemplate.
SOUTH AFRICA: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jean de Villiers (capt), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jesse Kriel
Samoa: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Paul Perez, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Mike Stanley, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i, 8 Ofisa Treviranus (capt), 7 Jack Lam, 6 TJ Ioane, 5 Joe Tekori, 4 Teofilo Paulo, 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Motu Matu’u, 1 Zak Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Ole Avei, 17 Viliami Afatia, 18 Census Johnston, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Vav, 21 Vavao Afemai, 22 Tusi Pisi, 23 George Pisi
Referee: Wayne Barnes (Eng)
Assistant referees: JP Doyle (Eng), Angus Gardner (Aus)
TMO: Graham Hughes (Eng)