The Springbok Showdown is effectively a trial for the South African-based players to stake a claim for a spot in Jacques Nienaber’s Rugby Championship squad.
Several prospective match-ups are very intriguing indeed and draw the eye when the Green and Gold squads are compared.
The presence of many capped Springboks gives the younger players in the group a chance to test themselves against the best and perhaps displace their heroes and begin their own international rugby ascension.
Five exciting potential match-ups at the Springbok showdown
Sanele Nohamba vs Herschel Jantjies – Scrumhalf
Herschel Jantjies enjoyed an incredible breakthrough season last term that culminated in him playing a big part in the Rugby World Cup triumph but the new season brings new challenges.
Jantjies poses a danger round the fringes, but defences are beginning to get wise to that.
For both men, the real test will be what contributions they make on defence; an area that incumbent Springbok number nine Faf de Klerk excels in.
Nohamba struggled to impact the game for the Sharks at Super Fan Saturday behind a pack that was going backwards, but he cannot rely on forward dominance if he is to make it in Test rugby.
As x-factor players, fans be on the lookout for something special from both while the coaches will take a keen interest in their handling of the basics.
JD Schickerling vs Marvin Orie – Lock
Schickerling and Orie get to enjoy a rematch of what was shaping up to a spicy confrontation at Super Fan Saturday.
Orie may feel that he is at the head of the local lock pecking order, but the exciting talents of Schickerling and his Stormers teammate Salmaan Moerat may be joining that conversation this weekend.
Shickerling doesn’t have the level of experience Orie sports, but he is physically larger and remarkably mobile, given his size. That versatility may give him an edge.
Orie brings physicality and a well-controlled mean streak to the forward pack, but the youngsters around him will all be looking to get one over on him, and that extends not only to his opponents but also his Gold squad teammates.
Trevor Nyakane vs Steven Kitshoff – Props
Nyakane put Ox Nche and the Sharks in their place at Loftus on Saturday with a brilliant scrumming display, but his ability will face the ultimate test if he packs down against Steven Kitshoff.
Both were part of Rassie Erasmus’ World Cup plans with Nyakane having to withdraw from the tournament due to injury.
These two could find themselves starting together in the Rugby Championship, but at Newlands, on Saturday the winner of this scrum tussle may just give their side a decisive edge.
The scrum will be incredibly significant for the Springboks plans of retaining the Rugby Championship, and it may be in their best interests to keep this titanic face-off brief as enticing as the prospect of it is.
Marco van Staden vs Siya Kolisi – Flank
At number six we have a clash between arguably the best pure ‘fetcher’ in South African rugby at the moment in Marco van Staden and none other that the Springbok skipper, who brings a slightly different skill set to the game.
The way matches are refereed could determine how much mileage the Springboks could get out of van Staden and how much time the Bulls flanker spends in the bin. He was yellow-carded for persistent infringing at Super Fan Saturday and may find Rugby Championship referees even stricter that Rasta Rashivenga.
Kolisi looked like a man returning from injury but scored a try in the Stormers win and got through a fair amount of work. Kolisi also brings so many intangibles into play with his leadership and is a much greater threat as a ball carrier than Van Staden.
The Springbok showdown will be a real test of Van Staden’s ability to impact matches on the big stage while Kolisi might be more concerned with his fitness rather than how he performs on the day.
Elton Jantjies vs Damian Willemse – Flyhalf
Damian Willemse put in a statement performance against Jantjies on Super Fan Saturday although both men had their moments as the Stormers edged the Lions at Loftus.
With Handre Pollard injured and on the shelf for some time this battle takes on extra significance.
Willemse has made it clear he wants to press for a place at ten, and he will be expected to start for the Gold squad ahead of the Sharks Curwin Bosch who wasn’t at his best at Loftus over the weekend.
In the Stormers flyhalf’s way is an experienced number 10 looking to take his game to a whole new level in Jantjies. He has been given the responsibility of leading the Lions, but he needs to prove that he can be a match-winner in tight contests.
Willemse is perhaps already better as a ball-carrier that Jantjies but the Lions flyhalf’s tactical kicking is an asset to any team while he can be guilty of being overly elaborate at times.