Bulls star Elrigh Louw. Photo: SA Rugby website

Bulls star Elrigh Louw. Photo: SA Rugby website

BOK TEAM: Elrigh Louw set for Test debut on Saturday?

Bulls star Elrigh Louw could be set to make his Test debut when the Boks take on Wales at Loftus this Saturday.

Bulls star Elrigh Louw. Photo: SA Rugby website

Bulls star Elrigh Louw. Photo: SA Rugby website

The first Bok Test of the year is finally upon us, but don’t expect too many surprises when coach Jacques Nienaber announces his team selection on Tuesday, 28 June. The team will be named at 12:30.

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Saturday’s opening encounter against Wales at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria is all about setting down a benchmark for the remainder of the season, and it’s already been made pretty clear that Nienaber will stick with the “tried and tested”.

The run-on XV can be quite easily predicted, but there could be some interesting calls to make when it comes to the configuration of the Boks’ bench – otherwise known as the famed ‘Bomb Squad’.

There is every reason to believe the Boks could revert to their 2019 World Cup tactic of employing a six-two forwards-to-backs split on the bench, particularly because utility back Damian Willemse can cover flyhalf, centre and fullback.

What is also set to impact the bench is the fact that powerhouse flank Pieter-Steph du Toit is still going through his final phase of injury rehabilitation and will not be considered for selection this week.

Du Toit missed the majority of the last international season due to a serious shoulder injury suffered during the British & Irish Lions series.

As a result, the least disruptive option could be to start utility forward Franco Mostert at blindside flank. If that is the case, the Boks could need to select a ‘new’ replacement lock on the bench, which could well be Salmaan Moerat.

There could also be a case for Bulls star Elrigh Louw – who offers utility value in the back row – to also join a bench packed with forwards. He is also not incapable of covering lock.

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Is this how the substitutes could line up for the Boks, with Louw in line for a debut?

16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Elrigh Louw, 21 Kwagga Smith, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse.

Meanwhile, we have also taken a closer look at the possible starting lineup.

Handre Pollard has only just returned to the team camp after winning the Top 14 with Montpellier, but he should still be expected to start at No 10, while the rest of the backline picks itself.

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In the absence of injured Duane Vermeulen, it’s almost certain that in-form Jasper Wiese will continue to be backed at No 8.

Up front, Trevor Nyakane or Frans Malherbe could start at tighthead prop in an interesting selection dilemma.

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Ahead of him doing so, The South African website’s Craig Lewis, Garrin Lambley and Dean Boyle have selected the starting XV’s that they believe the Springboks’ brains trust will read out.

Meanwhile, Wales will name their starting XV and substitutes exactly 48 hours later on Thursday, 30 June at 12:30.

Kick-off for all three Tests is at 17:05 and, as always, the best place to follow the action LIVE is on The South African website.

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CRAIG LEWIS’ EXPECTED SPRINGBOK STARTING XV

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche

GARRIN LAMBLEY’S EXPECTED SPRINGBOK STARTING XV

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff

DEAN BOYLE’S EXPECTED SPRINGBOK STARTING XV

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff

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Jacques Nienaber and Siya Kolisi. Photo: SA Rugby website