Over the next few weeks, our rugby writers will be debating their Springbok choices from No 15 to No 1 for the upcoming series against the British and Irish Lions. Today we focus on No 11, left wing.

You don’t go from being a star performer for the Springboks in the World Cup to not making the starting line-up in the Boks’ next Test, just because you have been off the radar to a degree in Japan.

Not much rugby has been played in that part of the world but Mapimpi did get some action for Johan Ackermann’s Docomo Red Hurricanes and continued scoring tries. He has been back in Durban for a few weeks now choice: and Sharks coach Sean Everitt says the 30-year-old is in fine shape and will play against the Lions this weekend. Mapimpi has an incredible strike rate for the Boks— 14 tries in his 14 Tests — and must be the left wing against the British and Irish Lions.

The Sharks star continued his try-scoring exploits for the Docomo Red Hurricanes in Japan in recent months, and he has returned to Durban and should be in the starting line-up against the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday.There haven’t really been any challengers to the 30-year-old Mapimpi, with Kurt-Lee Arendse at the Blitzboks, although Edwill van der Merwe has scored some thrilling tries for the Stormers and Courtnall Skosan has been in good form for the Lions. The Cheetahs’ Rosko Specman has also been lined up for a Test debut, following his inclusion in the Bok alignment camps.

Wynona Louw’s choice: Makazole Mapimpi

The Sharks winger will surely retain his place in the Springbok team, even though there have been some threateningly hot performances from some form wingers during the Rainbow Cup SA competition.

Mapimpi, who returned from a stint in Japan last month, made his mark for the Boks in a remarkable way, scoring South Africa’s first-ever try in a World Cup final and scoring 14 tries in as many matches. While there have been some scintillating performances from wingers locally – like Rosko Specman, Madosh Tambwe, Sbu Nkosi, and Edwill van der Merwe – it’s hard to predict any of them knocking Mapimpi off his spot, but knowing that there’s no shortage of competition might just galvanise the dangerous finisher into producing even better outings.

Morgan Bolton’s choice: Makazole Mapimpi

The No 11 jersey is a position that has a few questions hanging over it. We haven’t seen the natural choice, Makazole Mapimpi, in action and hopefully he will have some game time again the Lions this weekend, so we can properly assess his fitness and form.

Nevertheless, I would give the World Cup winner the benefit of the doubt, especially after Bok coach Jacques Nienaber assured on Friday that the majortity of his players are fit and ready to go.

Yaw Penxe is being talked up as Bok, and rightfully so, but the British & Irish Lions might be too big a stage to give the 24-year-old his first taste of international rugby. I do like the look of Edwill van der Merwe but equally, I don’t think he is ready for Test match rugby just yet.

Editor@tech-talk.co.za

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