Just “two or three” Ireland players would start for the Springboks, claims SA outlet

Just three?

Former Wales and British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton ruffled a few feathers last week when he claimed that Ireland are the “best” rugby team on the planet right now, even though South Africa are reigning back-to-back world champions.

When the two sides met in the pool stages of the Rugby World Cup last year, Ireland came out on top, but Andy Farrell’s side were beaten by the All Blacks in the quarter-finals – the very side the Boks defeated in the final to retain the Webb Ellis Cup.

One could argue there is very little between the two sides, with the pair set to lock horns again in the summer, but The South African, believes just “two or three” Ireland players would start for the Springboks.

“Up front, Tadhg Furlong, Dan Sheehan and Andrew Porter are an incredible front row, but would any of them really oust the Springboks’ scrum juggernauts? I doubt it,” Craig Lewis writes.

“There’s no way anyone would displace Eben Etzebeth at No 4, but maybe a 50-50 case could be made for Tadhg Beirne to partner with him in the second row.

“Siya Kolisi and Pieter-Steph du Toit are irreplaceable in the Springbok back row, but Duane Vermeulen has now retired. For Ireland, Peter O’Mahony is a beast, but I could only see him making a Bok team if he were able to be shifted to No 8.

“In the backline, Ireland have a world-class centre in Bundee Aki. However, does he really offer all that much more than Damian de Allende? Doubt it! Similarly, Aki’s centre partner Robbie Henshaw is pure class, but between Lukhanyo Am and Jesse Kriel, I doubt he’d crack the nod for a Bok XV.

“In fact, the only Ireland back I could see perhaps sneaking into the Springbok starting line-up is the electric James Lowe. Again, though, this is far from clear cut.”

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