5 Crucial Springbok-Ireland matchups

5 Crucial Springbok-Ireland matchups

Durban — Can a contest have a greater billing than the world champions taking on the world’s top-ranked team? This is the situation this Saturday at Aviva Stadium, as Ireland hosts the Springboks for the first match since 2017. The fact that these two nations will be in the same World Cup group next year adds an extra element of intrigue to the match. Mike Greenaway examines five matchups that could determine the outcome of the upcoming game.

Johnny Sexton takes on Damian Willemse.

The Ireland flyhalf is participating in his 109th Test for his country, while the young South African flyhalf is beginning just his third Test. Sexton has all the experience, but Willemse is unpredictable, so I will have to keep a close eye on him, as the 37-year-old stated. It is a daunting task for the 24-year-old Stormer, but also a fantastic opportunity to cement his position at No. 10.

Conor Murray v Jaden Hendrikse

When it comes to the pairings of halfbacks, Ireland and South Africa represent the old guard and the new guard, respectively. Murray, 33, is receiving his 100th cap for his nation, and he and Sexton have played together more often than they can recall over the course of more than a decade, including a number of occasions for the British & Irish Lions. Despite the fact that Hendrikse is inexperienced at this level, he is in good form and there is a good reason why he is keeping Faf de Klerk on the bench. If Hendrikse can maintain his composure and relieve Willemse of pressure, the Boks will have a decent opportunity.


Robbie Henshaw against Damian de Allende

De Allende and his centre partner Jesse Kriel are the only backs to have survived the 2017 drubbing in Dublin, while Henshaw is one of only five Irish players to have participated in the 38-3 loss. That day, the Irish No. 12 turned in a brilliant performance, scoring a try and creating a few more, and De Allende is highly motivated to guarantee the opposite occurs this time.

Peter O’Mahony v Siya Kolisi

The Munster flanker, who is 33 years old, is the heart and spirit of the Irish team. Nearing 100 national team appearances, he has led countless forward offensives for his beloved Ireland. He is a disruptive force at the breakdown and a defender who puts his body on the line. South Africa requires a comparable performance from its captain. Kolisi earned man of the series honors when the Lions toured last year, and he must again lead from the front if his team is to prevail.

Tadhg Beirne v Eben Etzebeth

The Bok enforcer is a proud warrior, and he stated this week that he will never forget the 2017 loss, but that it is now time to show the Irish what the Boks are capable of. If Eben the Angry can replicate his performance against the Wallabies in Sydney earlier this year, in which he nearly melted Allan Alaalatoa, the Boks will not lose. Beirne has the same physical dimensions as Etzebeth, but somewhat less experience, and the Boks can gain an advantage in this matchup.


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