DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA: Wing Makazole Mapimpi has vowed South Africa will fight fire with fire when they host Argentina in a final Rugby Championship game in Durban on Saturday (September 24), with the home side poised for a rare title win.
The Springboks are level with New Zealand on 14 points while the All Blacks host Australia in Auckland on Saturday.
New Zealand have a +41 point difference and the Boks +28, but South Africa will know exactly the equation needed to overtake the former when they start at the packed King’s Park.
Argentina are mathematically still in the hunt themselves, but it would take an impressive string of results and a massive -43 point jump to take first place.
Mapimpi expects the South Americans to seek revenge after their 20-36 defeat in Buenos Aires last weekend, where the home side fought their way back into the competition two points down in the final 10 minutes, only for South Africa to pull ahead again .
“Like their forwards, their backs are physical and we have to try to match that in the game,” Mapimpi told reporters. “For us, we have to personalize things and do our best.
“It’s very important for us as a team and for the fans to win the competition and see things come together. We’ve played a couple of games away and it’s great to be back and have a chance to win the rugby league so we’re looking forward to Saturday.”
The Boks are aiming for a fifth title in the Southern Hemisphere, although their last came in 2019 in a shortened, three-game-a-team competition due to the World Cup in Japan.
The last time they won a full game set competition was in 2009.
They enter the game with their fourth pick, veteran Frans Steyn (35), who is the only specialist in the position remaining in the squad as Handre Pollard, Elton Jantjies and Damian Willemse are all unavailable for various reasons.
It is his first Bok start in the number 10 shirt in 14 years, although he has finished games there in this rugby championship.
South Africa have also returned to their preferred 6-2 split between forwards and defenders on the bench, allowing them to keep up the pressure on set pieces and interrupted play throughout the 80 minutes.
Argentina, who defeated their hosts 37-25 in Durban 2015, their only win in South Africa, have made two defensive changes as Juan Imhoff replaces Lucio Cinti on the wing, while Matias Moroni replaces Matias Orlando in the wing-centre.
Imhoff scored a hat-trick of tries in that famous win seven years ago.
19-year-old teenage striker Pedro Rubiolo is a surprise pick on the bench.