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Cronin should not be second Best for South Africa

There is greater than usual interest around Joe Schmidt's selection dilemma for South Africa.

This follows confirmation that Rory Best will not make it and speculation that the New Zealander will be forced to turn away from the tried-and-tested Gordon D'Arcy at inside centre due to injury.

Hooker Best has already been ruled out with a calf strain after failing to convince medical staff over the course of modified training sessions. This means Leinster's Seán Cronin is next in line to take his shot at Springbok terminator Bismarck du Plessis with either Richardt Strauss or Rob Herring set for a place on the bench.

The possible failure of D'Arcy to recover from the groin injury he picked up against Castres in the Europe Rugby Champions Cup opens the door to the exciting prospect of the physical Robbie Henshaw and highly-skilled Jared Payne forming a midfield partnership.

All along, it was billed as an either/or proposition between Henshaw and Payne with Ian Madigan or Stuart Olding earmarked as back-up to D'Arcy.

There is also the significant matter of how long Mike Ross can last at tight-head prop and who from Stephen Archer and Rodney Ah You will be his understudy.


At least half-backs Conor Murray and Jonathan Sexton will be on hand to steer the ship and they would do worse than look at the rookie partnership between Handre Pollard, 20, and Jan Serfontein, 21, at ten and twelve.

Although these two men have been given what the hard-hitting Serfontein described as a "confidence builder" in beating New Zealand last month.

There are times on Saturday when Serfontein, wearing 13, will swap in and out of 12 with Jean de Villiers.

"It is not too big of an adjustment. Jean and myself switch now and then on attack and defence.

"It is just one channel wider," he said.