Winners and losers from the Springboks’ squad to face Argentina

Springboks winger Kurt-Lee Arendse, scrumhalf Grant Williams and centre Andre Esterhuizen. Argentina Rugby Championship Credit: Alamy

Springboks winger Kurt-Lee Arendse, scrumhalf Grant Williams and centre Andre Esterhuizen. Argentina Rugby Championship Credit: Alamy

Following the announcement of South Africa’s matchday squad to take on Argentina in their final Rugby Championship game, we pick out our winners and losers from the selection.

The clash at Ellis Park may well decide the Rugby Championship if Australia manage to upset the All Blacks earlier in the day.

Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber has made several changes, nine of which coming in the starting XV, while he has also ditched the 6-2 split for the more conventional 5-3.

Here are our winners and losers from the squad.


Outside backs

Hat-trick hero against Australia, Kurt-Lee Arendse, is rewarded with another start and will look to add to his incredible record of 10 tries in eight Test matches.

The high-flying Bull thoroughly deserves another crack in the starting line-up and is joined by future clubmate Willie le Roux.

Le Roux is one of three Springboks, also Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe, who have started every game for South Africa this year, and it just further highlights how crucial he is to the side, particularly on attack.

Finally, Cheslin Kolbe is one of the six players who retain their starting role from the loss to the All Blacks and rightly so. He was one of their best attacking threats throughout the match and arguably the best player overall.

With this being the Springboks’ last home game before the Rugby World Cup, Nienaber and co. have brought out the big guns at the back to entertain the Ellis Park faithful.


The form half-backs in South Africa during the United Rugby Championship get their opportunity in the starting XV.

Manie Libbok earned his first Test start against Australia, and now it is Grant Williams’ chance to run out with the side for the first time.

The attack-minded pair will look to impress as the competition for Rugby World Cup places heats up, and Saturday’s Test against the Pumas is the perfect opportunity for them to shine.

Their brilliance on attack may well result in a big scoreline if the Pumas are not sharp enough, while they will be keen to show off their tactical nous too.

First starts of 2023

After missing the opening two games, World Cup winners Jesse Kriel and Trevor Nyakane add to their Test cap tallies for the first time this year.

Both players are set to earn their 60th Test caps on Saturday, with Kriel starting alongside Damian de Allende in the centres, and Nyakane is set to have an impact off the bench as loosehead prop cover.

The versatile pair could play important roles for the Springboks at the Rugby World Cup later this year and will be keen to secure their spots after they were both injured during the pool stages of the tournament in Japan.

Standouts in round one return

Marco van Staden and Marvin Orie produced resounding performances against the Wallabies in the Rugby Championship opener and earn a second chance in the starting XV.

Orie ran the Springboks lineout well despite a few cohesion hiccups, while Van Staden was at his destructive best with ball in hand and at the breakdown.

Van Staden has an arduous task ahead of him, with the Pumas likely to unleash a back-row containing the excellent Juan Martin Gonzalez and Pablo Matera and potentially the abrasive Facundo Isa, making this a perfect opportunity for the Bok openside to make a statement.

Meanwhile, Orie slips into the second-row alongside his high school teammate Eben Etzebeth. With a near full-strength pack and plenty of lineout options to call to, he has all the tools to be successful and reproduce another busy outing.

Duane Vermeulen stamping his mark

Ahead of the Rugby Championship, there were question marks over whether Duane Vermeulen could make it to the Rugby World Cup. This weekend’s captain recently celebrated his 37th birthday, and there were concerns about whether he could hit the heights of 2019 and deliver at the highest level.

Well, the man affectionately known as Thor has hammered his statement home with two blockbuster showings in the Rugby Championship. He put in a mammoth 80-minute shift against Australia before coming off the bench against the All Blacks, with his introduction coinciding with a much-improved performance.

A world-class talent that thrives on big occasions, Vermeulen will be eager to produce one more statement performance as he captains his country in what could well be his final home Test in Green and Gold.


Dropped after slow starts against All Blacks

After that poor start against the All Blacks in round two, there were always going to be casualties.

While Nienaber made nine changes to his starting XV, four fell victim to the axe as they dropped out of the matchday squad entirely.

Forwards Lood de Jager, Jasper Wiese and Franco Mostert, and winger Makazole Mapimpi all fell out of favour for the final game of the Rugby Championship.

The quartet are all likely to still be on the plane to the Rugby World Cup, but this is undoubtedly a setback for their aspirations to be starters at the tournament.

Not being able to immediately make amends for the loss to New Zealand will hurt, but they are sure to get another shot before the final squad is named.

It also does not help the four players that their position is under threat by those start this week as Orie, Pieter-Steph du Toit and RG Snyman continue to put the pressure on De Jager and Mostert while Vermeulen is starting to grasp his starting jumper back from Wiese and Arendse is quickly racing away with the starting 11 jersey from Mapimpi.

Waiting for their chance

Four players are yet to get their chance for the Springboks this year and will have to wait at least another week to stake their claim for a place on the plane to the Rugby World Cup.

Half-backs Elton Jantjies, Herschel Jantjies and Jaden Hendrikse are yet to get their shot, as is Sale Sharks star utility forward Jean-Luc du Preez.

For the two Jantjies, the pair have seemingly fallen down their respective pecking orders, with Faf de Klerk, Cobus Reinach and Williams leading the scrum-half race with Libbok and Damian Willemse preferred at fly-half over Elton Jantjies despite Handre Pollard’s injury.

Time is certainly running out for the two Jantjies, while the story for Hendrikse is far different. The Sharks number nine missed the trip to New Zealand due to the passing of his father, and perhaps the coaching staff opted to give him an additional week to prepare. The coaches rate Hendrikse highly, and will surely get another shot to prove himself in the warm-ups.

As for Du Preez, he travelled early to New Zealand to prepare for the All Blacks clash but has now missed out on selection for all three internationals.

It’s possible that he lost out on a spot in the squad following the performances in the pack against Australia, and we will hopefully see him get a chance next week against Los Pumas. His ability to cover all back five forward positions could be a real bonus for the Boks, but competition in those areas is already hot, leaving Du Preez in a difficult spot to prove himself.

Unlucky Andre

After a dynamic and explosive performance against Australia, Andre Esterhuizen has missed out on the following two matchday squads for the Springboks.

It felt like a coming-of-age performance from Esterhuizen and one that he would have been eager to build on, but alas, it was not to be, for now anyway.

Back-up hookers

The one position the Springboks looked nailed down on, and have for the past six or so years, is hooker, with Malcolm Marx and Bongi Mbonambi dominating the two slots in the matchday squad.

There were calls this week for utility forward Deon Fourie to get a shot at Argentina, while Joseph Dweba has played just five times for the Boks.

Fourie is seen as an emergency hooker for the Boks, while Dweba is the out-and-out third option.

It looks inevitable that Marx and Mbonambi will be going to the World Cup with one of Fourie and Dweba joining, but time is running out for the pair to prove themselves.

READ MORE: Springboks make nine changes as Duane Vermeulen returns as captain

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