POINT TO PROVE: Lukhanyo Am. Photo: HERNAN BARRIOS / BACKPAGEPIX
POINT TO PROVE: Lukhanyo Am. Photo: HERNAN BARRIOS / BACKPAGEPIX
STARTING BOKS: Marx, left and Pollard return to the XV. Photo: SAMUEL SHIVAMBU/BACKPAGEPIX
STARTING BOKS: Marx, left and Pollard return to the XV. Photo: SAMUEL SHIVAMBU/BACKPAGEPIX

Springok boss Rassie Erasmus has made three changes and a positional switch to his side for tomorrow’s crunch Rugby Championship clash against New Zealand in Wellington (9.35am). 

Three of those changes are in the backline, where Jesse Kriel moves from centre to wing in place of the injured Makazole Mapimpi, with Lukhanyo Am taking his place in the midfield. 

At flyhalf, Elton Jantjies makes way for Handre Pollard, while up front Malcolm Marx takes the place of Bongi Mbonambi at hooker. 

It’s the move at midfield, though, that is interesting.
 
During his seven-match tenure as Springbok coach, Erasmus has used four different midfield combinations. 

Just last weekend in their 23-18 defeat to Australia, Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel teamed up for the first time. 

Before then, Erasmus used De Allende and Lukhanyo Am – tomorrow’s pair – twice, Andre Esterhuizen and Kriel twice and Esterhuizen and Am twice.

And that’s been one of the big problems in the Bok team of late, they lack creativity and the ability to punch holes in the opposition midfield. 

Crossing swords with Anton Lienert-Brown and Ryan Crotty, the Bok midfield will be out to prove that they are the men to man those positions when the Boks return for their home games against Australia and New Zealand. 

Erasmus also made one change to his bench, where Embrose Papier, a Bok on papier only, is replaced by Ross Cronje. 

Despite this change, which may indicate that the Boks will look to kick at their opposition in the second half, Erasmus knows the importance of not conceding possession to the best counterattacking team in the world. 

He says: “Keeping our discipline and retaining possession will be key, because New Zealand’s ability to counter from turnover ball is well-known.

“That means we have to be patient, our decision-making must be good and we have to capitalise on the opportunities that we create. The traditional rivalry between the two countries means we can expect a huge physical battle.”

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