Springboks End of Year Tour Preview

Allister Coetzee's Springboks face a gruelling year-end tour schedule, with the likes of Ireland, France, Italy, and Wales sure to give the Boks a run for their money.

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Allister Coetzee's Springboks face a gruelling year-end tour schedule, with the likes of Ireland, France, Italy, and Wales sure to give the Boks a run for their money. The "Albany Abomination" aside, 2017 really has seen Eben Etzebeth's boys put in some much-improved showings, and indeed the results over the next month or so may well determine just how successful their rugby calendar will be. Unforgettably, the Boks lost all three of their European Test matches 12-months ago, and Coetzee will be going tooth and nail to ensure nothing similar becomes of this year's season finale.

While results should (as ever) be the main focus for South Africa, the way in which Coetzee and his coaching staff allow some up-and-comers game time is also of utmost importance; especially looking ahead to the next World Cup...

Joe Schmidt's brigade will offer the Boks their biggest challenge on tour. Currently ranked one spot above South Africa in fourth-position on the World Rugby standings, the men from the Emerald Isle will target a Bok scalp to solidify their top four status, as well as giving Coetzee's touring party the worst possible start.

With a seriously impressive scrum and a backline that boasts some seriously talented blokes, Ireland will be favoured to come out trumps at the Aviva Stadium. If their forwards get some early ascendency, the tactical genius of Jonathan Sexton may well make sure that it's a long afternoon for the men in Green and Gold.

Having been dispatched 3-0 in their June Test series, the Le Bleu will be chomping at the bit to restore some lost pride. Coach, Guy Novés, is under a lot of pressure after a vastly underwhelming past 12-months, and one gets the feeling that the French will be well and truly up for this one.

France at home are always an entirely different prospect, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Guilhem Guirado's forward pack will want to make up for their poor showings in June by tearing into their African opponents. One can never be certain what kind of performance the French will put up on the day, but the common consensus is that it will be of a much loftier standard than what transpired earlier this year.

Following the Rugby World Cup meltdown against Japan in Brighton, Springbok supporters would have been forgiven for assuming that their beloved national side had reached their nadir, and then Florence happened. Italy's 20-18 triumph was perhaps one of the greatest in their history, and ensured Coetzee's charges outdid the class of 2015 - albeit for all the wrong reasons.

While there will certainly be some nervous faces in the Bok dugout in the lead up to the November Test match, the likelihood of another upset is unlikely. South Africa should claim a comfortable win against the 2017 Six Nations wooden-spoon winners.

The last fixture of the Bok tour falls outside of the World Rugby Test window, meaning that any South African players who ply their trade outside of the Rainbow Nation are ineligible for selection. Considering the amount of injuries the Boks are likely to pick up in their three preceding games, they may well come into this one depleted and low on experienced players.

Not that this is a great Welsh side by any stretch if the imagination, but it is the same squad that put one over the Boks 12-months ago. The dragons may just claim another win over South Africa here, with the crowd at the Principality Stadium sure to have a big say. Cardiff is a tough venue for any side to play at.

Bok Youngsters to Watch:

Wilco Louw: Louw capped off an outstanding season for both the Stormers and Western Province by making his Bok début against the All Blacks at Newlands. The tighthead proved in the recent Currie Cup final just how devastating a player he is, and will surely give the likes of Coenie Oosthuizen and Ruan Dreyer a run for their money on tour.

Daniel du Preez: The twin brother of Jean-Luc has seen his sibling impress regularly in the Bok jersey this year, and will no doubt be given a solid crack in November. Considering the lack of depth at eighthman, the Kearsney College old boy may well find himself in the thick of the action before he knows it. Expect him to grab his oppurtunity with both of his rather large mitts.

Curwin Bosch: Bosch was completely outplayed by Robert du Preez in the Currie Cup title-decider, and will seriously feel he needs to prove his worth after the former was not selected by Coetzee. While he may still lack in the defensive department, his tactical-kicking and X-Factor may stand the Boks in good stead as they negotiate their European counterparts over the next month or so.

Lukhanyo Am: Sharks centre, Lukhanyo Am, was poised to make his Bok debut in June before injury struck him down. Viewed by Coetzee as a potential squad-regular, the ex-Southern Kings man will look to prove to his gaffer that he can be as slick on defence as he is on attack - especially in what is sure to be challenging European conditions.

Warrick Gelant: The talented 22-year-old has been in mesmerizing form all year-long for the Bulls, and his first international cap is long overdue. Boasting the attack-mindedness of a Willie le Roux in his prime, Gelant may just have made that Bok number-15 jersey his own by the end of the tour.

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