While having to make do without Duane Vermeulen, Springbok coach Allister Coetzee believes Warren Whiteley can be a great No.8
Vermeulen injured his knee while on duty for French club Toulon in a pre-season friendly last weekend and is set to undergo surgery.
Having been withdrawn from the squad, without a replacement being named, Vermeulen does leave a gap in terms of experience at the back of the Bok scrum.
Coetzee explains: “Definitely an experienced player and a calibre player that he is, it is always a bit of a setback.
“But then again the national team should be covered in all positions.
“And I’m happy in the cover we have in Warren Whiteley, who has played in the last two Tests in any case.”
Whiteley is not the all-action direct powerhouse Vermeulen has been when at the top of his game.
Instead he is a more mobile No.8 and Coetzee is excited to see him in the Bok No.8 jumper.
He adds: “I’m really excited about him [Whiteley] starting, I’m sorry for Duane but he has done his knee and hopefully it won’t take that long.
“This is a long competition, two weeks in between breaks as well.
“With Warren’s load this year, you would like to think that Duane would come through at the right time of the season again.
“You don’t want it to happen but that is how it is and hopefully he will be back for the last two games of the Rugby Championship.
“And I’m happy with Warren stepping into that role.”
Having to start with a different type of No.8 won’t change the Boks’ game plan according to Coetzee, who adds: “No look, it doesn’t change the plan.
“It may add something to the way we want to play – because it is like swings and roundabouts.
“When you lose a bit of physicality here, you gain a little bit of flair and covering ground on the field as well.
“I have to make sure I don’t lose on both sides.
The physicality must still be there and we need to have good ball carriers in the team and make sure they have to be effective to give the guys with flair the opportunity to do that.”