Predicting the Springboks side that will face Argentina in their Rugby World Cup warm-up game in Buenos Aires

Springboks predicted team v Argentina 2023.jpg Credit: Alamy

Springboks predicted team v Argentina 2023.jpg Credit: Alamy

With a highly anticipated Rugby World Cup warm-up encounter against Argentina taking place this weekend, we’ve taken a stab at predicting South Africa’s line-up.

After finishing their Rugby Championship campaign as runners-up after a defeat to eventual winners New Zealand and victories over wooden spoonists Australia and third-placed Argentina, the Springboks and Los Pumas face off again in Buenos Aires on Saturday.

Bok head coach Jacques Nienaber is set to announce his team on Tuesday and we’ve attempted to predict what he will come up with as we weigh up injury returnees, rotation and form.

Predicted Springboks team to face Los Pumas

15 Damian Willemse: He featured in all three of the Boks’ Rugby Championship matches but had little game-time in the number 15 jersey where he played most of his time for the Stormers last season. Willemse started on the bench in the wins over Argentina and Australia and came on during the latter stages of those games at full-back and was shifted to that role late on in the loss to New Zealand after starting at fly-half. It’s time for him to start at full-back for South Africa.

14 Canan Moodie: The young Bulls flyer had some good moments in the Test against Australia but did not cross the whitewash on that occasion and will be hoping to do just that if he gets an opportunity in the run-on side in this Test. Although he is just 20 years old, Moodie plays with a maturity beyond his years and apart from his attacking prowess, is also sound on defence.

13 Lukhanyo Am: We expect Am to return to the Boks’ run-on side after coming off the replacements bench against Los Pumas in Johannesburg, and he could also lead this team to become the Boks’ 65th Test captain. The 2022 World Player of the Year nominee is yet to strike the form he showed last year – before he was struck down by a knee injury – but has had some good moments in previous Tests this year especially against Australia.

12 Andre Esterhuizen: The Harlequins man started the clash against the Wallabies in Pretoria and came to the fore with an outstanding all-round performance. The 29-year-old put the Boks on the front foot with some excellent carries and also did well to create try-scoring opportunities for his team-mates with superb distribution. He hasn’t featured since then and will be keen to put in another solid shift to seal his spot on the plane to France.

11 Makazole Mapimpi: The experienced flyer was in action in the Boks’ defeat against the All Blacks but – like most of the team on the day – he found the going tough as there were few attacking opportunities. Mapimpi’s position in the run-on side has come under threat from Kurt-Lee Arendse, who was preferred to him in the Johannesburg Test, and the 33-year-old will be looking to show off his skills in this clash.

10 Manie Libbok: As the only genuine fly-half in the squad, we expect the 26-year-old to make his third start of the year this weekend and to continue pulling the strings as the Boks’ chief playmaker. Libbok performed adequately during the Rugby Championship and will be determined to build on those displays with another polished performance this weekend to enhance his World Cup chances.

9 Herschel Jantjies: The Stormers scrum-half and 2019 Rugby World Cup winner is very much on the periphery of the Bok squad and will make his first Test appearance of the year if he gets an opportunity against Argentina. Will have to play out of his skin to make the World Cup squad.

8 Jasper Wiese: He came into the international season as the Boks’ first choice number eight and started in the Test against the All Blacks in Auckland but was one of several Boks who did not deliver the goods on the day. That does not make him a bad player and he will be determined to right the wrongs from that encounter especially on attack where his ball carrying will be crucial.

7 Jean-Luc du Preez: Equally at home on the flank or at lock, the Sale Sharks stalwart will be champing at the bit to be involved against Argentina as he has not played at Test level since 2018. Like Jantjies, Du Preez has been part of the Bok camp for the past month without seeing any action and will be at the forefront of the forward charge as a ball carrier and on defence.

6 Deon Fourie: The veteran utility forward came on during the latter stages of the opening Test against the Wallabies and had some good moments as part of a dominant pack. A tough customer who is solid on defence and excellent at the breakdowns, Fourie will be determined to make a big impact in both those departments while also shining on attack.

5 Lood de Jager: The experienced second-row will be keen to hit the ground running as he was one of those Boks who struggled against the All Blacks in the 35-20 defeat in Round Two of the Rugby Championship. De Jager will be expected to lead the way at the lineouts as he is one of the world’s leading exponents in that facet of play when on song.

4 Jean Kleyn: The Munsterman made his Springbok debut against the Wallabies in the Rugby Championship opener in Pretoria and despite coming to the fore with a workmanlike performance, he has not featured for the Boks since. An excellent lineout operator with a high work rate on defence, Kleyn will be desperate for another chance to stake his claim for the World Cup.

3 Vincent Koch: Another player with plenty of experience, the 33-year-old has played most of his Test rugby off the replacements bench with the impressive Frans Malherbe ahead of him in the queue. That was the case in all three Rugby Championship Tests but with Malherbe not included in the Boks’ touring squad for the Buenos Aires Test, Koch is set for a start.

2 Joseph Dweba: The Stormers hooker will be desperate for some action after only featuring off the replacements bench during the final quarter of the Test against the Wallabies at Loftus Versfeld. A strong ball carrier, he will be eager to make an impact in that department while also showing improvement in his other core duties.

1 Trevor Nyakane: Another veteran who made most of his Test appearances as a replacement behind first choice loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff, although both 2019 World Cup winners are part of the Bok touring squad for this encounter. It won’t be a surprise if Kitshoff gets a break for this Test, however, as he started all three of the Boks’ Rugby Championship Tests. That clears the way for Nyakane to start as his only previous appearance was off the bench in against Argentina Johannesburg.


16 Bongi Mbonambi: The 32-year-old was involved in the Boks’ last three internationals and although he started the first two Tests, against Australia and New Zealand, he was dropped to the bench for the Pumas Test in Johannesburg, a role he is likely to repeat this weekend.

17 Gerhard Steenekamp: The Bulls front-row was called up to the Bok squad as a replacement for the injured Ox Nche but is yet to make his Test debut. He will be eager to impress.

18 Thomas du Toit: Capable of playing on both sides of the front-row, Du Toit will be covering the tighthead side and hoping to show off his versatility after coming off the bench on the loosehead side in the games against the Wallabies and All Blacks.

19 Franco Mostert: The experienced utility forward had a forgetful game when starting on the blindside flank against the All Blacks and should get an extended run off the bench against Argentina in his primary position in the second-row.

20 Evan Roos: A dynamic ball carrier whose only previous appearance was off the bench in the closing stages of the Wallabies Test, Roos will be hoping for more game-time against the South Americans.

21 Jaden Hendrikse: The 23-year-old was the Boks’ first choice scrum-half at one stage in 2022 but a shoulder injury and a family bereavement meant he saw no action during the Rugby Championship. He will be keen to shine in Buenos Aires.

22 Jesse Kriel: The 29-year-old made his first appearance in the Boks’ narrow win over Argentina in Johannesburg and put in an average performance. Will be eager to see more action in Buenos Aires.

23 Kurt-Lee Arendse: Made a fine start to the year with a hat-trick against the Wallabies but was left out for the next match against the All Blacks. He returned to action on Saturday against Los Pumas in Johannesburg but was kept in check and will be hoping for a better performance this weekend.

READ MORE: Rugby Championship Team of the Week: All Blacks dominate our side after Bledisloe Cup success

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