Tue 28 Jun 2022 | 12:09

Nienaber brings in uncapped duo for first Test against Wales

Nienaber brings in uncapped duo for first Test against Wales
Tue 28 Jun 2022 | 12:09
Nienaber brings in uncapped duo for first Test against Wales
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TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Salmaan Moerat and Elrigh Louw are in line to make their Springbok debuts from the replacements bench against Wales in Pretoria on Saturday.

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Moerat, who was a member of the Springbok touring squad for last season’s UK tour, and Louw have been stand-out performers for the Stormers and Bulls respectively in the United Rugby Championship this season, and given their fine form for their franchises, Nienaber will be expecting them to make a big impact off in what is a strong bench for the match.

Damian Willemse will start at fullback and Elton Jantjies at flyhalf in a backline featuring several familiar faces, in wings Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe, centres Lukhanyo Am and Damian de Allende, and scrumhalf Faf de Klerk.

In the front row, Frans Malherbe and Retshegofaditswe Nché Nché will pack down on either side of Mbongeni Mbonambi (hooker), Eben Etzebeth and Lodewyk de Jager will join forces at lock, and Springbok captain Siyamthanda Kolisi will form a loose trio with Francois Mostert and Jasper Wiese. Am will serve as vice-captain for the match.

With a physical onslaught expected from Wales, Nienaber opted for a six-two split on the replacements bench, with Herschel Jantjies (scrumhalf) and veteran fullback Willie le Roux providing cover among the backs, while the forwards comprise the impactful front row of Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff and Vincent Koch, Moerat, Louw and versatile loose forward Albertus Smith.

“We have a talented group of players, and we believe the matchday squad we selected ticks the boxes in terms of what we would like to achieve in the opening Test against Wales,” said Nienaber.

“We have the added advantage of having several players that are quite versatile, so a guy like Damian Willemse for example can cover flyhalf and centre in addition to fullback, while Kwagga [Albertus Smith] covers each of the loose forward positions and can even slot in at wing with his BlitzBok experience.

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“Franco [Mostert] also gives us options at loose forward and lock, so we look forward to seeing what this team can produce on Saturday.”

Nienaber was delighted to offer Moerat and Louw – who are both former Junior Springbok players and have made a consistent impact for their respective franchises over the last few seasons – an opportunity to start on the replacements bench.

“We have a fantastic crop of young players who have really been working hard at training and putting up their hands, and it is pleasing for us as coaches to give Salmaan and Elrigh this opportunity,” said the Springbok coach.

“Salmaan was with us on our tour to the UK last season, and despite being so young he brings a different sense of experience as a former Junior Springbok and SA Schools captain, while Elrigh also featured in a World Rugby Under-20 Championship and has been playing senior provincial rugby for a while.

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“We have a plan for the season in terms of giving some of the young players a chance to show what they can do at international level, while at the same time taking stock of the seasoned campaigners and where they are in terms of their rugby.

“Unfortunately, with such a big squad there will always be a few unlucky players, but it is a fine balancing act to ensure we win Tests, build squad depth, and transform as a team in the way we play.

“We have a plan for the season in terms of giving some of the young players a chance to show what they can do at international level, while at the same time taking stock of the seasoned campaigners and where they are in terms of their rugby.

“This is a long season with the Incoming Series, the Rugby Championship, the year-end tour where we are also hoping to play a few SA ‘A’ games, while we are also looking further ahead to next year’s Rugby World Cup.

“That said, we are looking forward to seeing what Salmaan and Elrigh have to offer if they get the opportunity to take the field.”

Nienaber expected a tough test against Wales, saying they will give everything as they look to turn things around following a disappointing Six Nations campaign.

“Wales have been training together for a few weeks now and we have no doubt that they will give everything against us on Saturday,” said Nienaber.

“They are an experienced squad, and they have top-class players in their ranks – some of which represented the British &Irish Lions last year – so we are expecting a hard grind of a Test.

“They have physical forwards and backs that spark something from nothing, so we need to deliver a quality performance in order to get our season off to a strong start.”

South Africa: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nché.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Elrigh Louw, 21 Albertus Smith, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Willie le Roux.

Date: Saturday, July 2
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 17.05 (16.05 UK & Ireland time; 15.05 GMT)
Referee: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Andrew Piardi (Italy)
TMO: Joy Neville (Ireland)

PV: 22
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