Lukhanyo Am

Lukhanyo Am initially missed out on World Cup selection due to injury Photo by JUAN MABROMATA / AFP

Three PIVOTAL decisions for the Springboks

The Springboks have a number of intriguing selection headaches ahead of their Rugby World Cup quarterfinal with France. Here are three.

Lukhanyo Am

Lukhanyo Am initially missed out on World Cup selection due to injury Photo by JUAN MABROMATA / AFP

The Springboks are looking forward to a mouthwatering Rugby World Cup quarterfinal against host nation France. They have a few selection dilemmas ahead of Sunday’s clash, including the option of starting Lukhanyo Am at 13.

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Three huge decisions for the Springboks


Will the technical team cave into public pressure and bring Handre Pollard back into the pivot role, or stick with the flamboyant skills of Libbok? Much of that will depend on Pollard’s fitness and whether he looks match-sharp against Tonga. His goal-kicking in that match will also be a huge focus. The risk/benefit analysis all boils down to Pollard’s physical condition, his form off the kicking tee and how much the team’s management values Libbok’s flair and playmaking skills. A wonderful option would be having Pollard as a safety blanket on the bench in case Libbok’s goal-kicking isn’t up to scratch in a game of that magnitude.

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Springboks rugby world cup
South Africa’s wing Kurt-Lee Arendse (R) celebrates with flyhalf Manie Libbok. Photo by WIKUS DE WET / AFP)


Following a serious facial injury sustained by Makazole Mapimpi, scorer of South Africa’s first-ever try in a Rugby World Cup final, the technical team have opted to utilize their option to draft a backup player back into the fold. Lukhanyo Am was an instrumental part of the Springboks’ success in Japan four years ago, and his world-class capabilities at outside centre will no doubt give coach Jacques Nienaber a host of new intriguing options. Should he be brought right back into the starting XV though or would that be harsh on Jesse Kriel?

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7-1, 6-2 OR 5-3 SPLIT?

South Africa’s decision to select seven forwards on their bench recently got column inches all over the world. The Bomb Squad tactic didn’t work quite as planned against Ireland, and management might be tempted to revert to a 6-2 split for the remainder of the showpiece or even 5-3 to accommodate somebody with the versatility and experience of Willie le Roux on the bench, or the natural gifts of Canan Moodie. Then again, if both Handre Pollard and Lukhanyo Am are included on the bench, Moodie’s place in the matchday squad may be in jeopardy.

So many tough decisions to be made.

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Siya Kolisi Springboks Rugby World Cup
Siyamthanda Kolisi in Cape Town. Image: David Harrison / AFP

Meanwhile, hit up James Freemantle for more insights, analysis and love for the beautiful game

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