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Springboks player ratings vs Argentina | 2023 RWC Warm-ups

By Daniel Gallan
Santiago Cordero of Argentina is tackled by Jesse Kriel of South Africa during The Rugby Championship match between Argentina and South Africa at Jose Amalfitani Stadium on August 5, 2023 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo by Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images)

Springboks player ratings: They called this a B-team. That didn’t quite tell the full story. It would have been more accurate to call this an audition team as most members of the group were still vying for a place in the 33-man World Cup squad. Some put their hands up and forced Jacques Nienaber to ink their names on his team sheet. Others flopped which means the Boks’ coaching staff have some serious questions to answer before Tuesday’s big reveal.

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The backline sizzled while the pack – much-changed from the regular cohort – failed to establish gainline dominance. That in itself is a bonus for Nienaber. If his usual heavy hitters can supplement the razzamatazz of the hotsteppers out wide and in the centre, he might have a serious team on his hands.

15. Damian Willemse – 8
Underlined his status as one of the most enterprising South African backs for a generation. Elusive in the tight exchanges with outstanding vision, as exemplified by his cross-field finder of Canan Moodie and the quick hands for Mapimpi’s score. Some neat touches and a mighty boot. He’ll need to maintain that form over the next seven weeks.

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14. Canan Moodie – 9
Secured his ticket to France with this performance. Quick feet and strong legs saw him beat three defenders in just a few first half minutes. Tidy hands saw him grab Manie Libbok’s cross-field kick to touch down the Boks’ second score. Capped things off with two telling tackles. The first was a humongous hit that resulted in a penalty with the other forced as a knock-on inside Argentina’s half. Another outstanding show from the 20-year-old.

Points Flow Chart

South Africa win +11
Time in lead
21
Mins in lead
42
26%
% Of Game In Lead
53%
25%
Possession Last 10 min
75%
0
Points Last 10 min
3

13. Lukhanyo Am – 5
For 15 minutes it felt like he’d never left. The injury was a distant memory. All talk of dips in form disappeared in the ether. Those trademark soft touches, the shifts in weight, those hands, those glorious, delicate hands. And then he got nailed in a tackle and was shunted backwards and suddenly the vultures circled once again. When he failed to come on after the restart, replaced by Jesse Kriel who immediately helped set up a try, we began to wonder if we’d ever seen the old Am again

12. Andre Esterhuizen – 7
Nabbed a high ball from the air. One of a few players who advanced his cause. Very strong with ball in hand, immense in defence when called upon, 45 metres from six carries tells the story.

11. Makazole Mapimpi – 7
Largely anonymous for the first half, he was on hand when needed. Burst through a half gap to score South Africa’s first try early in the second half. He might not dazzle like other South African wingers, but he puts the ball down over the line. But is it enough for a World Cup spot?

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10. Manie Libbok – 7
A difficult game to score. When he was good, he was sublime. Delicious popped passes and no-look give-and-gos were a hallmark of his display. His cross-field kick to Moodie was majestic. Watch only his highlights and you’ll be naming your first born after him. But when he was poor, he was dreadful. Wasted 11 points from the tee before the hour minute mark though found his range by the end. Still plenty to ponder for Jacques Nienaber and company.

9. Cobus Reinach – 6
Solid without being spectacular. Hard to see him nudge further up the pecking order after this game. Will still be sweating on a place in the World Cup squad. The fitness of Grant Williams will likely determine his fate. Replaced by Herschel Jantjies on 56 minutes.

1. Trevor Nykakane – 8
Mighty in the scrum and ever present in the loose. Reminded a few who’d forgotten that he’s a world class operator. Made way for Gerhard Steenkamp on 62 minutes.

2. Bongi Mbonambi – 7
A strong performance for the match-day skipper. Found his jumpers at the line-out and almost wormed his way for a first half try when he splintered from a driving maul. Also handled the on-field politics with distinction and never missed a tackle. Off for Joseph Dweba on 52 minutes.

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Points Flow Chart

South Africa win +11
Time in lead
21
Mins in lead
42
26%
% Of Game In Lead
53%
25%
Possession Last 10 min
75%
0
Points Last 10 min
3

3. Thomas du Toit – 7
Made more metres than any other prop on the field. Scrummed well too to boost his chances of featuring in a game that counts in the World Cup. Replaced by Vincent Koch on 52 minutes.

4. Jean Kleyn – 8
It felt as if he was competing for a place at the World Cup with Marvin Orie, and if that is true then he has squeezed ahead of his second-row rival. Had a perfect record from his nine tackle attempts while carrying 12 times for 31 metres – more than any other Springbok. Has given Nienaber a serious headache with this performance.

5. Marvin Orie – 6
Didn’t do much wrong, apart from coughing up a cynical penalty reverse in the first half. But, given the question marks over his inclusion in the World Cup squad, and given the fact that his rival started alongside him in the second row, he’ll be lying awake wondering if he’d done enough. The fact that he was replaced by Jean-Luc du Preez on 48 minutes while Kleyn remained on the pitch will only heighten his anxiety.

6. Deon Fourie – 7
Missed a straightforward tackle to allow Gonzalo Bertranou through for Argentina’s try. But other than that howler on the line, he was mostly good. Stole a few crucial turnovers on the ground and beat three defenders with some leg pumping runs from short range.

7. Franco Mostert – 6
Largely anonymous until the 35th when he nailed Santiago Carreras off the ball and was shown a yellow card. Not the sharpest game from Mr Versatile.

8. Jasper Wiese – 5
Some typically meaty carries but coughed up two penalties in the first half. Should have scored when he was helped up (or at least shown greater awareness of the rules by not mindlessly charging for the line). Struggled to assert gainline dominance which is his forte. Subbed for Evan Roos on 57 minutes.

16. Joseph Dweba – 7
Industrious when he came on. Won’t take part in the World Cup but Nienaber will be pleased with his depth at hooker.

17. Gerhard Steenkamp – 6
Missed two tackles from four attempts, which will annoy him. Still, a handy debut from the prop who was fishing when he got the call to join the national team.

18. Vincent Koch – 6
Performed his job, as he always does when called upon. Made 10 metres from three carries and held the scrum.

19. Jean-Luc du Preez – 6
An important steal inside Argentina territory. It’s a shame the Springboks have a conveyor belt of talent in the back row. He’d have won plenty more Test caps if he had a different passport.

20. Evan Roos – 7
Outshone Wiese once he entered the scene. Probably not enough to steal a World Cup berth.

21. Herschel Jantjies – 7
Good to see him back on the field in a Springbok jersey. Added fix to the line.

22. Jesse Kriel – 8
An instant impact with a lovely pass under pressure to set Willemse loose in the build up to Mapimpi’s try. Arguably South Africa’s most underrated player showed why he has the faith of the men that matter most.

23. Kurt-Lee Arendse – N/A
Unused sub.

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Comments

2 Comments
H
HOFer 318 days ago

These ratings are insanely high and would suggest a 20-30 point win. If you get 7s and 8s from most of your team you would expect a big score.

B
Billy 319 days ago

I love the way these rankings give more context to a player's performance .... even if one does not always agree with each ranking ...it is always subjective, but still impartial ...keep it up! Thank you!!

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Flankly 10 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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