Coetzee's hoping he has a lock on Kiwi proceedings

Rich choice in the second row between veterans and young blood

12 September 2017 - 07:38 By KHANYISO TSHWAKU
YOU LOOKING AT ME Lood de Jager is one of the  men  Springbok coach  Allister Coetzee can call on to provide some set-piece mongrel against the All Blacks.
YOU LOOKING AT ME Lood de Jager is one of the men Springbok coach Allister Coetzee can call on to provide some set-piece mongrel against the All Blacks.
Image: Gallo Images

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee and his England counterpart Eddie Jones probably have the least worries when it comes to selecting locks.

They have grizzled veterans around whom they can rotate relative youngsters such as Pieter-Steph du Toit and Lood de Jager. Though not a kid any more, the latter became known as a baby-faced assassin after his 2015 Rugby World Cup exploits.

Du Toit's powerful Perth performance, coupled with De Jager's useful second-half cameo, ensured the Bok pack never took their foot off the pedal.

With New Zealand welcoming back lineout maestro Sam Whitelock for Saturday's Rugby Championship clash against South Africa at the North Harbour Stadium in Albany, there is a strong possibility De Jager may worm his way into the starting 15.

It leads one to ask whether there is wisdom in breaking up the functional Eben Etzebeth-Du Toit combination that works at the Stormers, but the same applied to the Etzebeth-Franco Mostert pairing that functioned well in the first five Tests of the season.

The strength in depth at lock allows Coetzee to make this kind of decision, especially because De Jager offers more physicality and mobility.

Dominating New Zealand at the contact point is just one of the building blocks needed to find a way to win in the Land of the Long White Cloud.

The All Blacks have at times been dominated at set-pieces but they have still found other ways to win.

However, the British and Irish Lions gave a perfect display in Wellington two months ago of how to capitalise on the dominance of their forwards. Even then, they needed the All Blacks to be down to 14 men to get the win.

The Boks will want their share of fortune but will also want to make sure they earn their win - if they get that far.

How South Africa's locks fare will be crucial to this as their lineout domination stalled any momentum the Australians tried to gain in Perth on Saturday.

Whoever starts, they will hold the key to unlocking the New Zealand set-piece.

Bulls players such as De Jager have proved in the green and the gold this season they are far better players than their Super Rugby form suggested.

For example, despite the tight marking on centres Jan Serfontein and Jesse Kriel by the Australian loose forwards, the duo still found a way to have an influence.

The same will be expected of them on Saturday as Coetzee will not be keen on breaking up their Bulls-bred partnership.

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