It was a no-brainer for Springbok coach Allister Coetzee to pick Lionel Mapoe at outside centre for injured Jesse Kriel in the only change to the starting lineup for the second test against France at Kings Park in Durban tomorrow.
Coetzee said making the selection for the clash against the French, whose coach Guy Noves made a whopping eight changes, had not been rocket science.
“This week’s selection was easy after the team performed well in Pretoria and we were happy with combinations,” he said at the squad announcement yesterday.
“That was the first thing in mind when we did selection for the first test to have as many combinations as possible.
“I have selected Jan Serfontein at No 12 and, therefore, it is a no-brainer to bring Lionel back at No 13 as the only change, and one can only hope that those two will combine well together.
“When you talk defence, you have to look at your 13.
“There is a lot of emphasis put on the organisational skills of a 13 and I think Lionel Mapoe is an underrated player when it gets to that department, and fortunately he has played a lot of rugby with Elton Jantjies at the Lions.
“It’s not just about combinations in the end, but what a specialist No 12 should do in the young backline we have.
“Playing him out of position, and bringing in Frans Steyn at 12 would not have made any sense.
“We want to avoid making a lot of changes. Now is about building momentum and continuity with more or less the same team.”
Coetzee said although he was happy with the performance of the team in Pretoria, there was room for improvement.
“There was a lot of emphasis on our uncapped back three last week and it doesn’t mean that after just one win they are all of a sudden experienced players. We have a lot to improve on,” the coach said.
“We created great opportunities but we should be clinical enough in test match rugby to execute and finish. We are hoping to maintain what went well for us in the first game and one thing we can be sure of is that the French are going to improve on the scrum.”
Another area that needs improvement is lineouts and Coetzee said the Boks had worked on that this week.
“The emphasis is on different areas of lineout defence,” he said.
“There are times that you have to contest, there are times you must be ready to stop the maul and there are times where you must be ready to organise the vacuum at the back of the maul and see that you are well connected.”
15. Andries Coetzee, 14. Raymond Rhule, 13. Lionel Mapoe, 12. Jan Serfontein, 11. Courtnall Skosan, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Ross Cronje, 8. Warren Whiteley, 7. Oupa Mohoje, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5. Franco Mostert, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Frans Malherbe, 2. Malcolm Marx, 1. Tendai Mtawarira Replacements: 16. Bongi Mbonambi, 17. Steven Kitshoff, 18. Coenie Oosthuizen, 19. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20. Jean-Luc du Preez, 21. Francois Hougaard, 22. Frans Steyn, 23. Dillyn Leyds