Rassie Erasmus will be quietly satisfied with how his tenure as Head Coach of the Springboks has started but yet again they come into the Championship slightly unsettled as question marks about players availability continue to circle.
That said, on paper at least, this should be a walk in the park for the Boks as Argentina had a terrible June test series losing to an understrength Welsh side and then being on the wrong end of a Scottish pummelling all at home. This is despite the Jaguares, whom mostly make up the Pumas squad, having their best season to date in Super Rugby.
I’m not sure it’s as cut and dry as that for the Green and Gold though and their record against Argentina would suggest that this will be closer than the home crowd would want.
Mario Ladesma, the man who galvanised the Jaguares, has now taken over the reigns from Daniel Hourcade and he knows how to get the best out of these enigmatic Pumas. They have natural ability as we have seen so regularly in the past and they also know how to pull out a big performance from out of the blue as well. The Blue and Whites have the skill set to open up any team but for them to put it together so soon after Ladesma has taken over may be too big an ask.
South Africa welcome back some big named, experienced players into their squad. Francois Louw, Malcolm Marx, Eben Etzebeth and Warren Whiteley will all re-join the starting XV from June. Whiteley will slot in where inspirational Number 8 Duane Vermeulen has left a gaping hole to form a new back row alongside Louw on the openside and captain, Siya Kolisi on the blind.
Ladesma’s squad has a youthful look to it. Only four of them are 30 years of age or older and they certainly shouldn’t be judged on this Championship alone. There is bags of experience in this squad though and with leaders like Agustin Creevy and Juan Manuel Leguizamon in their squad they should not be written off.
I think this will be a close encounter up until the final throws when the home side will avenge their 2015 defeat on the same ground in Durban.
SOUTH AFRICA BY 12