Three-way race for Bok No.15 jersey
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The absence of Japan-based fullback Willie le Roux has created a three-way race for the Springbok No.15 jersey.
Le Roux is currently with Eagles in japan and will join up with English Premiership side Wasps after the completion of his commitments in Japan.
Springbok coach Allister Coetzee, at the start of the team's build-up for their Rugby Championship campaign, told a media briefing that Bulls utility back Jesse Kriel, Racing Metro utility Johan Goosen and Lions wing Ruan Combrinck are all in the running for the vacancy at fullback.
While the decision not to pick a specialist fullback appears to be a gamble, Coetzee believes all three are more than adequate in the position.
Coetzee revealed that Goosen, who often played at outside centre for Racing and played most of his senior career at flyhalf, has been named in the Bok squad as fullback.
Goosen has - in his six Tests - come off the bench three times, started twice at flyhalf and in his last appearance for the Boks‚ against Italy in Padua in 2014‚ he started at fullback.
"The most important thing for the fullback is his positional play and assisting the wings, and that trio gives us options‚" Coetzee said.
"Those three also give us a right-footed kicking option if we start with [left-footed] Elton Jantjies at flyhalf.
Coetzee said one of the problems in the June series against Ireland was that scrumhalf Francois de Klerk‚ flyhalf Elton Jantjies and fullback Willie le Roux were all left-footed.
"The balance is better with those right-footed kickers."
The Bok coach also pointed out that Goosen, who has been outstanding for Racing in European competition, can also play centre and flyhalf.
Apart from the selection posers, the Boks are also focusing heavily on the breakdown and kicking aspects of their game in the build-up to the Rugby Championship - which gets underway when South Africa play Argentina in Nelspruit on August 20.
Those are among the aspects where the Boks were shown up by the Irish in June.
Bok assistant coach Johann van Graan felt that the team's set pieces were solid against the Irish.
"However, were not accurate at the breakdowns and our ball carriers were stop too easily," Van Graan told the media.
He felt that Argentina will pose an equally big threat at the breakdown and that is why they are working hard on their technique in this aspect.
Coetzee added that kicking out of hand was another aspect that will come into sharp focus in the days to come.
"We were under pressure against Ireland [in June] because their tactical kicking was so much better," the coach said.
He felt that teams, especially those from New Zealand, target South African sides with tactical kicking.
"Just go look at how much the All Blacks kicked against us [the Boks] in the World Cup semifinal last year.
"Our kicking will have to improve and we have to be geared for teams who turn us around with their kicking [out of hand]."
Only half of the 31-man squad, named this past weekend, have reported in Johannesburg for duty.
The nine Lions in the squad will join the camp on Thursday, while overseas-based players - like Duane Vermeulen, Johan Goosen, Steven Kitshoff, Francois Louw and Morné Steyn - will only arrive in the country on Sunday.