Francois 'Flo' Louw to start in Durban?

With Duane Vermeulen not available for the Rugby Championship, Francois Louw will provide the auxiliary leadership role to skipper Siya Kolisi.

Springbok Francois Louw. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Returning Springbok flank Francois 'Flo' Louw should be in the starting line-up for South Africa’s Rugby Championship opener against Argentina in Durban if you were to believe Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus.

With Duane Vermeulen not available for the Rugby Championship, Louw will provide the auxiliary leadership role to skipper Siya Kolisi which Vermeulen performed so astutely during the series win over England. Erasmus is also keen on the uncapped duo of Cyle Brink and Marco van Staden to absorb Louw’s traits.

“A guy like ‘Flo’ is so keen to play for the Boks. I think for the first four games we will use him as much as we can and let Marco and Cyle learn from him. Flo is full on ready for that job, they must suck up everything he can give to them.

Louw is with the national side while his club in England, Bath, are getting stuck into pre-season. Erasmus says Louw will be available for the start of the Rugby Championship but confirmed there is no written agreement with the Premiership club on Louw’s playing time in the Rugby Championship.

“The understanding between him and his club (Bath) is that we will have him for the beginning of the Rugby Championship. There are not arrangements but there are understandings.”

Lions number eight and former Springboks captain Warren Whiteley is also in the loose forward frame. While he doesn’t have the physical presence of Vermeulen, Erasmus believes his skill set will complement the other loose forwards if chosen.

“We can’t just pluck Warren in an eight and expect him to do the same job as Duane, but there is a lot of things that Warren can do that maybe Duane can’t do. What you lose in certain aspects you gain in others…plenty more. We just have to make sure when we select that loose trio, we will nullify the losses in terms of attributes."

The Springboks kick off their Rugby Championship campaign in Durban against Argentina on Saturday.