There is little time for South Africa to rest on their famous series win over the Lions as the Rugby Championship kicks off in earnest on Saturday.
The Springboks welcome Argentina to Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday as they look to build on the momentum forged in those victories against the Lions.
Argentina head into the 2021 Rugby Championship in impressive form, too, however; they won a two-Test series over Wales – who were, admittedly, missing several key players at the Principality Stadium in July.
When is it?
Saturday, August 14.
What time is kick-off?
What TV channel is it on?
Sky Sports Action from 3.55pm BST. Or you can follow live coverage with Telegraph Sport.
What is the latest squad/team news?
Head coach Jacques Nienaber has batted away accusations the Springboks play a dull brand of rugby and believes the real boredom in the sport would stem from all teams trying to play the same away.
The Boks beat the British & Irish Lions 2-1 in their recent series but were accused of being ‘boring’, with New Zealand coach Ian Foster suggesting the second Test put him to sleep with the forward-dominated kicking game that both teams employed.
“That’s the beauty of rugby, there’s different ways to play and distinctive styles. It would be unbelievably boring if everybody played the same way,” Nienaber told reporters on Tuesday.
“Take the World Cup for instance, we played probably the most attacking team (Japan) in the quarter-finals and then you had to change the whole mentality against a team (Wales in the semi-finals) that played a massive kicking game that meant you had to make plans to outsmart them.”
Nienaber said each team will play to their strengths and for the Boks that means power and a strong set-piece.
“I don’t think there is one specific style (that has to be played), it is determined by the players you have,” he said.
“New Zealand will have certain athletic attributes and will create a game-plan to amplify those special characteristics. We will have a different (type of) player and will look to amplify our athletic abilities. Playing styles differ because the athletes differ.”
The Boks are likely to tinker with their approach for their Rugby Championship opener against Argentina on Saturday though, having selected a team with 10 changes that will look to try and run more with ball in hand.
South Africa starting XV: D Willemse; S Nkosi, J Kriel, F Steyn, A Fassi; E Jantjies, C Reinach; O Nche, J Dweba, W Louw, E Etzebeth, L de Jager, S Kolisi (c), K Smith, J Wiese.
Replacements: M Marx, T Nyakane, V Koch, M Orie, M van Staden, D du Preez, H Jantjies, M Steyn.
Argentina coach Mario Ledesma has chosen Marcos Kremer at lock as he looks to go toe-to-toe with South Africa’s powerful forwards.
Ledesma believes the forward battle will be crucial and has opted for the power of Kremer alongside Guido Petti in the second row, leaving Tomas Lavanini and Matias Alemanno among the replacements.
“There is a saying in Argentina that the forwards win the game and the backs decide by how much. The forward battle will be crucial, we are confident about our pack and I am excited to see the challenge on the field,” Ledesma told reporters in naming his side on Thursday.
The front row of the scrum is made up of Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro and Francisco Gomez Kodela, with captain Julian Montoya at hooker. Flankers Facundo Isa and Pablo Matera join No 8 Rodrigo Bruni in the back row.
Felipe Ezcurra has been chosen at scrum-half in the place of the injured Tomas Cubelli, getting the nod ahead of Gonzalo Bertranou, who is on the bench. Ezcurra will partner the vastly experienced Nicolas Sanchez in the half-back pairing.
Matias Moroni is on the wing along with Bautista Delguy, with Santiago Carreras at full-back. Santiago Chocobares and Jeronimo De La Fuente make up the centre pairing.
Uncapped prop Carlos Muzzio has been named on the bench, along with American-born wing Sebastian Cancelliere, who last played for The Pumas against South Africa in the 24-18 loss in Pretoria in August 2019.
Ledesma is expecting a tough and physical contest, adding that suggestions that the Boks play ‘boring’ rugby are wide of the mark.
Argentina starting XV: S Carreras; B Delguy, S Chocobares, J De La Fuente, M Moroni; N Sanchez, F Ezcurra; N Tetaz Chaparro, J Montoya (c), F Gomez Kodela, G Petti, M Kremer, P Matera, F Isa, R Bruni.
Replacements: F Bosch, C Muzzio, S Medrano, T Lavanini, M Alemanno, G Bertranou, D Miotti, S Cancelliere.
What’s our prediction?
Argentina seem to get better every year – as proven by their inaugural victory over the All Blacks in 2020 – but South Africa come into the championship on the back of a gutsy series win over the Lions and, at home, they should have too much for the travelling Pumas. But the visitors, as ever, will not go down without a fight.
Predicted score: South Africa 18 Argentina 12