Rugby Championship: What to look out for, round 4

Date published: September 28 2016

As the Rugby Championship resumes this weekend we analyse the two Test matches and pick the things to keep an eye on.

South Africa v Australia
We will have to see whether Louis Koen's influence on South Africa's kicking game can make a difference in just a week but considering how shoddy it has been lately he should help in some form. South Africa have always prided themselves on their tactical kicking but since trying to move away from their traditional strengths into a more running game, they seemed to have lost this important skill altogether. Although South Africa rank number one in the overall stats in kicks from hand up till now in the Rugby Championship, they have been largely ineffectual after kicks are going straight out or straight down the throats of some of the finest counter attackers in world rugby (read: Israel Folau and Israel Dagg). So if Koen can train the Springbok booters to kick in the right areas of the field we might see a far more potent outfit. 

Recalled experienced players could turn things around for the Springboks in Pretoria. With Morne Steyn manning his old fortress once again his experience could add wonders to the South Africans if he should start. No sane human can doubt Elton Jantjies electric skill but the Springbok game-plan does not seem to be tailored to him, and maybe Steyn's cool-head can provide the stability South Africa needs at play-maker.

Allister Coetzee has called back Willie le Roux for the last two Tests of the Rugby Championship. With 37 Test caps for South Africa, the nippy full-back could be the answer to a very young and inexperienced back-line that could use a mentor in times of strife. His positional play, especially under the high-ball and where Johan Goosen has been found lacking, would add value to South Africa's defence and give them momentum in counter attacking. 

Argentina v New Zealand
With the Rugby Championship secured by New Zealand, they might start picking some of their youngsters and blood some new talent with their next two games. The All Blacks play Argentina in South America and then battle the old enemy in South Africa in Durban both of which would be great feather in young players' caps. With the likes of future-stars George Moala, Damian McKenzie, Ofa Tu'ungafasi and Liam Squire relatively new to the squad, it might be their time to shine in the last two games. 

In the opening half of Argentina's first game against New Zealand, the South Americans held the World Champions to a five point difference. The second half, however, was a completely different story as the All Blacks scored 30 points, leaving Argentina in the dust. But the Pumas wouldn't be the bourgeoning rugby side they are, if they did not learn from their mistakes and find a way to tame the New Zealand click attack in the last 30 minutes. If the Pumas can play and defend for 80 minutes we might have a very different game on our hands.

by Nicholas McGregor