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Springboks player ratings vs Italy | Autumn Nations Series

By Daniel Gallan
Kurt-Lee Arendse #11 of South Africa in action during Italy v South Africa 2022 Autumn International at Stadio Luigi Ferraris on November 19, 2022 in Genoa, Italy. (Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)

Springboks player ratings: That’s more like it. It wasn’t a perfect performance – South Africa held a slender five point lead at half time – but a resounding second half saw them canter to a 63-21 win in Genoa. At the heart of it was a flying winger and a fly-half who each proved what a difference it makes when a player is actually playing in his appropriate position.


Kurt-Lee Arendse was lethal out wide and bagged two tries and set another one up. It was Mani Libbok, though, who was perhaps the most valuable player (if not the official man of the match). On as a replacement in the second period, he electrified the Springboks’ backline and offered a glimpse of his potential.

The powerful pack was back at their best but it was the men with nitroglycerin in their boots that stole the show.

15. Willie le Roux – 8
Occupied a more traditional fullback position as compared to last week’s game in Marseille but was just as effective with ball in hand. Played the final pass for two of South Africa’s nine tries and was instrumental in inciting several backline moves that yielded points. Grows in importance with every performance.

14. Cheslin Kolbe – 7
Scored a breathtaking try straight from a South African restart where he le[t in the air, gathered the ball, and accelerated upon landing to dot down. That proved to be his last act though as he tweaked his hamstring in the process. Slotted three kicks at goal and was busy on the wing before being substituted for Manie Libbok on 47 minutes.

13. Damian de Allende – 5
Seems to be on a zealous crusade to prove that he can kick a rugby ball. He certainly can, just not in any way that positively impacts his team. On two occasions he hoofed the ball when either holding or passing would have been a better option. He made just 27 metres with ball in hand from five carries and made just six passes. One wonders if that’s the last we see of him in the 13 jersey.

12. Andre Esterhuizen – 6
Mostly used as a battering ram he punched holes in midfield and offered go-forward when on the charge. One off-load was the extent of his creative output but was solid enough in the job he was asked to perform.


11. Kurt-Lee Arendse – 9
Someone at World Rugby needs to explain how this hot-stepper wasn’t shortlisted for breakthrough player of the year. With two tries across 80 minutes, he now has six from six Tests. It often seemed as if he’d been cloned such was his constant involvement in the match. Showed great strength to finish the first try of the game and demonstrated his blistering speed in setting up the final South African score as he cut infield off the right touchline. Outstanding show and rightly named player of the match.

10. Damian Willemse – 8
Took control at first receiver but still dazzled with some swift footwork when cornered by the Italian defence. Responsible for finding space for the opening try as he dummied then stepped before a delayed pass to le Roux created the opportunity out wide. Moved to the wing when Libbok came on for Kolbe and scored a try to cap off a tidy match.

9. Faf de Klerk – 6
Gave away a cheap penalty and gifted Italy three points when the game was still in the balance after straying offside from a Kolbe clearing kick. In a way that summed up de Klerk’s game as he often lapsed in concentration or made the wrong choice. He began the game by sniping down the blindside when recycling and shovelling it along would have been the sensing option. Not a disaster, but hardly a vintage display. Off for Cobus Reinach on 68 minutes.

Ox Nche – 7
Another strong performance in the scrum and in close quarters. Made 11 carries and was successful in every tackle attempt. Off for Steven Kitshoff on 49 minutes.


2. Bongi Mbonambi – 6
Did well to burrow over from close range to score and improved his line-out throwing (though he did miss his target once). Loses points here for being reprimanded by the referee after incessant moaning. Given the recent behaviour of Rassie Erasmus, one would hope that senior players would be conscious of their image and relationship with the officials. Off for Malcom Marx on 49 minutes.

3. Frans Malherbe – 7
Heavily involved all over the park while still performing his primary job of anchoring the Springboks scrum. Seemed to clear out every second ruck and carried over 20 metres. One of the best in the business in his position. Off for Vincent Koch on 49 minutes.


4. Salmaan Moerat – 6
Was a constant presence in the line-out and did well on maul defence duties, winning the ball back with Italy threatening the line. Also won two turnovers in the first half. Off for Eben Etzebeth on 43 minutes.

5. Marvin Orie – 6
Solid without being spectacular. The Springboks depth in the second row has been tested with Lood de Jager and RG Snyman, and both Moerat and Orie gave a good account of themselves. They’re clearly lower down in the pecking order, but they showed they’re able to step up when called upon. Off for Kwagga Smith on 50 minutes.

6. Siya Kolisi – 8
Grew as the game went on, the Springboks skipper was excellent across the park. Mostly found himself in the trams where he acted as a de facto centre at times, straightening the line and then picking the right pass at the right time, including a tray assist for Willemse. Energetic around the rucks his speed to the breakdown was impressive.

7. Franco Mostert – 6
Handy as a lineout option but failed to boss the tight channels in the way that a more hard-hitting loose forward might. Definitely improved when he shifted to the second row. Proved his versatility but also his limitations.

8. Jasper Wiese – 7
A few busting runs but was well marshalled by the Italian defence. Didn’t quite exert himself around the fringes but did charge through a half gap when he picked the right line, proving that he’s more than just a mindless blunt object. Also stole the ball on the ground on two occasions. Off for Evan Roos on 59 mins.


16. Malcolm Marx – 8
On his day he’s the best hooker in the world and he wasn’t far from his best on this occasion. Scored South Africa’s fourth try in the second half from the back of a rolling maul but that was just one involvement across a half hour that had everything. Capped it off with an important steal five metres from his own line at the death, showing his value on either side of the ball. On for Mbonambi on 49 minutes.

17. Steven Kitshoff – 7
Showed immense strength to score from close range, shrugging off a tackle as if he’d been tapped in a pillow fight. Performed his job as expected. On for Nche on 49 minutes.

18. Vincent Koch – 6
Not much to praise or critique. A good hit out for an integral member of the Bomb Squad. On for Malherbe on 49 minutes.

19. Eben Etzebeth – 8
South Africa were in danger of letting slip a must-win game before Etzebeth came on. He immediately crunched Ange Capuozzo with a bone rattling tackle and then disrupted an Italian line-out, winning the ball back. His first carry of substance attracted the attention of multiple defenders which then opened space in other areas, resulting in a try for Arendse on the left. A big player having a big impact off the bench. Someone needs to make a case for why he wasn’t nominated for World Rugby’s player of the year.On for Moerat on 43 minutes.

20. Kwagga Smith – 8
Injected needed pace into the Boks back three as well as some slick runs and neat passes.. Demonstrated he has grunt to go with his guile by crashing over for a score under the posts. Such an asset off the bench. On for Orie on 50 minutes.

21. Evan Roos – 6
A tidy show. He made three carries without setting the house on fire. Still, that’s another cap for this exciting talent. On for Wiese on 59 mins.

22. Cobus Reinach – 7
Scored a try set up by his teammates, added a bit of sparkle with his pace. His work was made easier as the Springbok pack began to flex their muscles. On for de Klerk on 67 min

23. Manie LIbbok – 9/10
Sensational. The performance that Springboks fans were hoping for. Showed what a difference a genuine 10 makes to the game. First introduction was to straighten the attack after gathering the ball much shallower than either le Roux or Willemse had done, he then ignited a move that culminated in a South Africa try. Expertly bisected the poles with difficult kicks on the periphery as well. His ability to bring teammates into play by shooting the ball to them at the apex of their run was a joy to watch. Is he the missing ingredient? One game doesn’t mean a whole lot, but there is something to work with. Wouldn’t be surprising if he starts at fly-half against England next week. On for Kolbe on 48 mins.


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