The Springboks could spring a surprise by starting Nizaam Carr at openside for Saturday’s test against Italy at the Artemio Franchi stadium.
Against England at the weekend, the Boks went into the match without a specialist opensider, but that was specific selection for that encounter.
They were expecting more chest high tackles rather than a battle for the ball on the deck, given that England also played without a specialist openside.
But against Italy, the Boks are predicting more low tackles with the second player swooping in over the ball.
They expect Italy’s gameplan to have more breakdown focus. Carr, 25, who has only earned three test caps since making his debut against Italy in Padua in 2014, was used as an openside at the Stormers when Bok coach Allister Coetzee was their coach.
It would be his first test start if Coetzee confirms the selection today.
Carr has good speed and, at 1.84m tall, is the right size profile to play towards the ball, although it is a job he has not done with regularity.
Being capable of playing all three positions in the back of the scrum has occasionally worked against the talented Carr.
If he does start, Willem Alberts will move back to his preferred blindside flank role.
Alberts was one of the few standout performers for the Boks last weekend, making an impressive 17 tackles and frequently giving his side momentum.
With Pieter-Steph du Toit due to return to the second row to partner Lood de Jager – with Eben Etzebeth injured – the Bok back row of Carr, Alberts and Warren Whiteley will have better balance.
“Nizaam played really well when he came on last week,” Coetzee said.
“He made an impact and is a good player with the ball in hand. “He has played openside before as well. “Willem was impressive and made a lot of tackles and Lood and Pieter-Steph were right up there, which showed the pack’s high work rate.”
Otherwise the pack will remain unchanged while the backline might be in for a slight reshuffle.
Bryan Habana is fit again and should take over from Ruan Combrinck in the only likely change.
Coetzee has said there needed to be continuity in selection to build some momentum, in a fractured year in which the Boks won only four of 10 tests.