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November 8, 2016
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DECISION TIME: SA boss Allister Coetzee

Coetzee has a fullback and midfield headache.

After giving his second stringers a run against the Barbarians last weekend, Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has some tough calls to make ahead of this Saturday’s crunch Test against Eddie Jones’ England.

Already written off by the English media as they prepare to do battle against the world’s second-best team, there is no doubt that the Boks will enter the match under pressure at Twickenham (kickoff 4.30pm).

His rookies didn’t exactly set the world alight in the 31-31 draw with the Baabaas, but the Boks would have taken some heart out of the performance by their pack of forwards.

It’s in the backline where they have failed to inspire.

And with centre-cum-fullback Jesse Kriel being ruled out of the rest of the tour because of injury, Coetzee will be thinking hard about his mix of playmakers.

It starts at the back of the line, where the coach has failed to find a fullback that can stamp his authority on the No.15 jumper.

Willie le Roux and Johan Goosen joined up with the squad yesterday and while they haven’t been at their best under the high ball – something that will be tested by the English, it will have to be one of them manning the last line of defence.

If he opts for Pat Lambie at flyhalf, the left boot of Le Roux, the most experienced fullback in the squad, might come in handy. The other option would be to play Ruan Combrinck at the back, but Coetzee should keep disruptions to a minimum.

As for his midfield, the coach will in all likelihood play Damian de Allende at inside centre.

The injury to Kriel means there might be a shake-up and it’s here were Rohan Janse van Rensburg can turn out to be a surprise debutant at No.12.

It would be wise then to pair him with Lionel Mapoe, his teammate at the Lions.

Coetzee, though, will try to keep changes to his side to a minimum in such an important game and that might see De Allende playing with Mapoe – the combination he had in his first Test in charge of the national team against Ireland earlier this year.

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