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The Springboks and Wallabies players who stood up at Loftus Versfeld, and the poor performers who should be stood down

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Roar Rookie
12th July, 2023
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1030 Reads

Much was said last week about the venue, much was said about the players and more about the ones that had been sent off to New Zealand. Much was said about the new era of Eddie Jones.

The recap: Loftus is brutal and it lived up to the hype again. The Boks were brutal. Eddie Jones was brutal during the post match and Suliasi Vunivalu is probably wondering why the code change is so hard.

Let’s have a look at who really stood out and who should be stood down after Saturday’s 43-12 drubbing in Pretoria, noting the Wallabies that stood out made the list as stand outs in a team that was poor at best.

Stand Outs

1. Carter Gordon. Willingness to play has to be a box tick. Salvaged some pride in the scoreline by refusing to quit at the death and tearing off for a try. Nic White was out of sorts behind an outplayed pack, while Gordon was refreshingly hungry and competitive.

2. Will Skelton. In a pack that largely went missing, Skelton was keen and affected some good moments, throwing his big body into tackles and causing contest at ruck time, Frost was absent and Hooper too small.

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3. Marika Koroibete. Willing to play. Aside from the blistering first try (caused by a steal from Jean Kleyn), Marika was clearly instructed to put the hurt on young winger Canan Moodie. Moodie at times looked a bit gun shy with ball in hand due to Koroibete’s pressure.

4. Dave Porecki. Lineouts were a mile better than Uelese. Porecki is combative and physical, perhaps enough to cement his spot. His yellow card was technically correct, but he was trying to stop a Springbok maul effectively on his own.

5. Manie Libbok. Probably the biggest winner out of this contest. Sharp passing and running lines, creating chances. One wonders whether he will perform behind a pack that isn’t as dominant, nonetheless he ticked the boxes with aplomb.

Manie Libbok of South Africa with the ball during the Rugby Championship match between South Africa and Australia at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on July 08, 2023 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Manie Libbok. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

6. Jean Kleyn. Imagine being passed over for Bok selection, playing for Ireland, and then being passed over by them, only to get a call from Rassie in a World Cup year. JK was huge.

7. Steven Kitshoff. Confirmed he is the form loosehead. Kitsie was tireless, big carries, great at scrum and in the loose as well.

8. Duane Vermeulen. 37 years young, and much like Schalk Burger, he has turned into a smarter player in his twilight years if this game was anything to go by. Helped along by the incredible workrate of Pieter Steph du Toit and Marco van Staden.

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9. Andre Esterhuizen. A midfield gamebreaker. Named the Premiership’s Players Player in 2022 for a reason and he didn’t disappoint. Lukhanyo Am and Esterhuizen cut their teeth together at the Sharks and while Am had a quiet day by his standards, he put Esterhuizen onto the ball for big metres to cause mayhem.

10. Kurt Lee Arendse. A hat-trick for the nippy winger, some good work off the ball, even though he slipped a tackle here and there. Wing spots in this Springbok cycle will have stiff competition and he’ll have laid a marker.

Stand Downs

1. Suliasi Vunivalu. High risk, high reward. This was not the game to risk him in He’s a keen and superb athlete, but he needs to learn his trade against opposition that allows him more space. Starting him is akin to having a bare blade in your kitbag. He was skinned by Arendse for the first try, gave away a soft penalty after a great counter ruck and then a yellow card for a knock down. Is there a better option?

Suli Vunivalu. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

2. Jordan Uelese. Attitude was the opposite of Gordon’s once he took the field. He didn’t want that smoke. Lineouts went awry, three times.

3. Tom Hooper. A horror debut. Clearly did not expect the pace and physicality of this level of rugby. He was ghosted by Libbok and replaced early through injury.

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4. Quade Cooper. Absent? Much was said of him being the general that was needed, clearly missing at Loftus.

5. Cobus Reinach. A good game, and a good back up to Faf, but Reinach’s kicking was below par by his standards and those set by Erasmus and Nienaber, he’ll be wary of Grant Williams as the pressure for scrum half heats up.

6. Michael Hooper. Targeted by the bigger Boks on attack and not allowed space at the ruck, Hooper was effectively negated.

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