Brodie Retallick Sport24.co.za | Marcelo Bosch chats to Sport24

    Brodie Retallick Sport24.co.za | Marcelo Bosch chats to Sport24

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    Cape Town – In an exclusive interview, former
    Pumas centreMARCELO BOSCHtalks
    about the healthy state of Springbok rugby, what makes Schalk Brits such a
    special team-mate and the Loftus Test on Saturday.

    Sport24 asked: Your assessment of South Africa’s Rugby Championship
    triumph?

    Marcelo Bosch:The Springboks produced very good performances and
    truly deserved to win the Rugby Championship. They started really well against
    Australia, played well to draw with New Zealand and their performance against
    Argentina away from home was impressive. South Africa pride themselves on their
    physicality and we know that the Springboks always want to impose themselves in
    terms of the physical side of the game. However, over and above their
    physicality, their defence was superb. The way they got off the line, managed
    the collisions and made decisions around the breakdown was impressive. Their set-piece
    play was very solid and most of all their scrums and driven line-outs were
    effective. The Springboks are producing very complete rugby and I really like
    the way in which they are playing. For this side, it’s not only about being
    direct and physical. They have very good players on the outside who can create
    something out of nothing. Handré Pollard, who contributed 31 points against Los
    Pumas, is enjoying a very good moment. They have scrumhalves and a pair of
    centres that are playing really well and a fullback that is unpredictable. I observe
    a Springbok team that has developed plenty of depth and you can see that the
    players are enjoying themselves and playing for each other. I’m pleased for
    South African rugby and I see them in a good place heading into the Rugby World
    Cup which begins in Japan next month.

    Sport24 asked: What do you make of the De Allende-Am first-choice
    centre pairing?

    Marcelo Bosch:Damian de Allende is a quality player. He is very
    strong and physical, but he possesses good skills as well and has soft hands.
    His partnership with Lukhanyo Am has worked very well in the last three Tests.
    It is not only from an attacking point of view, but defensively they were both
    very solid. I like them as a midfield combination. They have got experience
    playing with each other and they are also functioning really well with flyhalf Pollard.
    I see South Africa have made 12 changes to their side for the Test on Saturday,
    with Andre Esterhuizen and Jesse Kriel starting in the centres. They are both
    very good players as well and it seems as though South Africa have developed
    strength in depth in positions. It means Rassie Erasmus can try different
    combinations which is great.

    Sport24 asked: Your take on Schalk Brits starting for and captaining his
    country?

    Marcelo Bosch:It’s awesome that Schalk will be playing for and
    captaining the Springboks against Los Pumas in Pretoria on Saturday. It’s an
    amazing accomplishment for him and he has enjoyed a superb career. I sent him a
    text message with my best wishes to say that I am very happy for him and that
    he deserves it. It’s great that he has an opportunity to play for South Africa
    again. To still be playing for your country at the age of 38 is a huge
    achievement. To those who say Schalk is too old for Test rugby, I believe that
    as long as you are still performing on the pitch it doesn’t matter how old you
    are. When you reach your late-30s you perhaps lose a bit of speed and reaction
    time, but if you are still physically up to it, which Schalk is, then the
    experience you can offer as a senior player is invaluable. If you are still
    performing and playing really well, as Schalk is doing, why wouldn’t you be
    selected to play for your national team? I don’t see any reason not to pick him
    because he knows the game and physically and mentally he is still in very good
    shape. Erasmus knows what Schalk can bring to the team in the sense of his
    experience and leadership and, as a hooker, he brings a good scrum set-piece
    and throwing in the lineouts. In terms of adding value off the field, Schalk
    was very influential during my time at Saracens. As a person he has plenty of
    charisma, is very positive and he energises his teammates because he loves
    playing rugby. It was always a pleasure to play with him.

    Sport24 asked: What do you make of the mass changes for both sides for
    Loftus?

    Marcelo Bosch:With this game effectively serving as a friendly,
    after the Springboks clinched the Rugby Championship last weekend, both coaches
    want to give game time to other players and also allow their first-team time to
    recover. In the heads of the coaches, their 31-man World Cup squad lists are
    basically decided and they don’t want any key players to get injured. It allows
    Erasmus and Mario Ledesma to test other combinations and assess their depth
    which is logical. Lucas Mensa and Jeronimo de la Fuente will start in the
    midfield for Los Pumas who have made 11 changes to their starting line-up. De
    la Fuente captained the Jaguares during Super Rugby and he is a regular for
    Argentina, so we know how he plays. Meanwhile, Mensa is uncapped and, to be
    honest, I don’t know too much about the 23-year-old inside centre. I was a bit
    surprised that the team didn’t take Matias Moroni and Matias Orlando to South
    Africa. Their absence presents an opportunity for Mensa and we will see how he and
    his teammates fare on Saturday. I hope that Argentina perform better in
    Pretoria than they did in Salta. I know that this game is no longer for the
    Rugby Championship, but it is still a Test match and you want to play serious
    rugby. If the weather conditions are good, I feel like we will see a game where
    both teams want to keep the ball in hand. If Argentina can improve their
    scrummaging performance, hopefully we can have a more competitive contest than
    last Saturday, which was definitely Los Pumas’ worst game of the Rugby
    Championship. Going into a World Cup you need to have a strong set-piece and it
    will be front of mind for Ledesma.

    Sport24 asked: How do you see the World Cup picture playing out from
    next month?

    Marcelo Bosch:Four years ago,

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