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Nienaber banks on 'new' back three to handle France

REACTION: Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber has shed some light on his bold team selection for Saturday’s Test against France.


Nienaber made five changes to the team that suffered a 16-19 defeat to Ireland last weekend.

The coach has selected Willie Le Roux to start at fullback with Cheslin Kolbe returning to his more familiar position at right wing, while Kurt-Lee Arendse will start at left wing.

The Bulls star will don the No.11 jersey in place of Makazole Mapimpi.

Saturday’s fixture will be the first time Mapimpi will start from the bench in his Springbok career.

The 32-year-old has been a starter in all of his 34 Test caps for the Boks and has played on the right wing three times.

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Speaking to reporters Nienaber explained the decision to field the untried back three combination of Le Roux, Kolbe and Arendse.

“We just thought that Willie brought good direction when he came on in the second half [in Dublin],” Nienaber said, adding: “He brings all that experience that he has picked up over the last couple of years.

“He is a well-seasoned, experienced fullback and we think with the likes of Cheslin [Kolbe] and Kurt-Lee [Arendse], it is the best combination to face the French.


“We know Makazole is a quality player and we have three really good wings that can finish.

“However, we face a particular style of play that is maybe a little different to other countries and we think they are the most suited back three to handle this.”

Another big talking point is the omission of Jaden Hendrikse.

The Sharks scrumhalf has worked his way up in the pecking order and in recent games made the No.9 jersey his own. However, a below-par display against Ireland saw Nienaber revert back to the more experienced campaigners like Faf De Klerk and Cobus Reinach.

De Klerk will start while Cobus Reinach is the backup on the bench.

“We are truly blessed with world-class No.9s,” Nienaber said.

“If you look at someone like Jaden Hendrikse, he probably started the year as the third-choice and he almost had six starts this year so we just felt like bringing Faf de Klerk back.

“I thought De Klerk added good energy when he came on [in Dublin] and we have the likes of Cobus who knows the place [France] and can unlock something different.

“Reinach can snipe around the rucks. I think it’s just more of a rotation and we all know how exciting Reinach can be.”


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