So here we are at the end of Rassie's first year, and much of Rassie's match squad are still trying to establish themselves. Here's the team:
Springboks – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 S’bu Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff. Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Cheslin Kolbe.
This starts with the centre partnership, now at the end of it's 4th Bok season. Face it there is no synergy between these two players and as individuals they haven't grown. Match after match this year they have drowned in good ball with no tangible results.
Then there is Papier, new for this test....but already complicit in the loss to NZ. He is a decent prospect but what exactly does he add. At best he is an unknown.
The tight forwards are fine, but Snyman needs to grasp this opportunity and confirm his early season form, his work off the bench has been disconnected to the team's situation.
Biggest enigma of all is Kolisi who cracked the top 10 in 5 categories in the RC, only to go awol in the two NH tests. He is a total non factor at the contact point....counter rucking or fetching.
And then we get to the bench....Koch and lucky Thomas, suddenly a loosehead again, have not put their scrumming woes behind them. Lomp has been alarmingly feeble.....it's a long time since this player has done diddly in green and gold, not since the USA match at the WC in my view.
And the bench backs are also unknowns. Is Kolbe really going to work out as a test wing? I doubt it. And van Zyl was competent against the Poms, but very minimalist to use an art term.
Which brings us to the enigma of Jantjies. Within inches of blowing the French test....his long touch finder did ultimately win the test. But what happens if we are ahead with 30minutes to go in a key test and Pollard is injured. Jantjies really needs to play a few convincing full tests....but until we are playing Italy or Samoa again, will Rassie take the chance. Scotland clearly seemed too big a risk for him.
Perhaps I'm being a little unfair here....most teams have some questionable players, but it feels like things are still unresolved. In terms of our centres, our loosie combination, our replacement front row and our alternative 10. Those are some pretty big issues.