South African coach Allister Coetzee expects a huge onslaught” from France today in a Durban test that could decide the three-match series. The Springboks lead 1-0 after a 37-14 victory over the severely depleted Les Bleus in Pretoria last weekend as they seek to put a disastrous first season for Coetzee behind them.
He oversaw a calendar-year record eight losses in 12 tests for South Africa, fuelling media speculation that a series loss to the French would spell the end for the 54year-old.
Coetzee labelled the Pretoria success “the start of a new chapter” while admitting that much-changed France are set to pose a much greater threat at Kings Park stadium.
“We know we will be up against a well-prepared French team in the second test and are readying ourselves for that,” he said. “They want to bounce back and we want to continue with our processes.
“Although not perfect, I am pleased with our set pieces and expect a huge onslaught from the French in the scrums and line-outs.”
Among eight starting changes by Les Bleus coach Guy Noves are two in the front row, one in the “engine room” and one in the back row, all designed to beef up the pack.
Skipper Guilhem Guirado, rested with six other squad members for the Pretoria test after playing in the French Top 14 final the previous weekend, is recalled.
So are tighthead prop Rabah Slimani, lock Romain Taofifenua and flanker Kevin Gourdon, while more will be expected of star No 8 Louis Picamoles.
Former Western Stormers coach Coetzee also believes France will be more formidable at half-back for the second test. Fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc and scrum-half Baptiste Serin replace Jules Plisson and Maxime Machenaud, who failed to click at Loftus Versfeld stadium.
“The French half-back pairing is going to be a much bigger threat than in Pretoria and a lot of their game revolves around the pair.
“Hopefully, we can apply pressure and it will be up to our players, particularly the loose forwards, to cut down their space.”
The other two French alterations see South Africa-born Scott Spedding coming in at full-back and a first cap for outside centre Damian Penaud.
Coetzee reacted predictably to only his second victory in nine tests by making just one change, and that was enforced, with Lionel Mapoe replacing Jesse Kriel at outside centre.
Kriel scored the first try in Pretoria and later suffered concussion, opening the door for Mapoe, who watched the first test from the grandstand due to a hamstring strain.
Mapoe’s inclusion raised to eight the number of Springbok starters from the Golden Lions.
South Africa: Andries Coetzee; Raymond Rhule, Lionel Mapoe, Jan Serfontein, Courtnall Skosan; Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronje;WarrenWhiteley (capt), Oupa Mohoje, Siya Kolisi; Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth; Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Tendai Mtawarira Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff, Coenie Oosthuizen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jean-Luc du Preez, Francois Hougaard, Francois Steyn, Dillyn Leyds Coach: Allister Coetzee (RSA)
France: Scott Spedding; Yoann Huget, Damian Penaud, Gael Fickou, Virimi Vakatawa; Francois Trinh-Duc, Baptiste Serin; Louis Picamoles, Kevin Gourdon, Yacouba Camara; Romain Taofifenua, Yoann Maestri; Rabah Slimani, Guilhem Guirado (capt), Jefferson Poirot Replacements: Clement Maynadier, Eddy Ben Arous, Uini Atonio, Julien le Devedec, Bernard le Roux, Antoine Dupont, Jean-Marc Doussain, Nans Ducuing Coach: Guy Noves (FRA)