Wholesale changes as Boks send out the A-Team
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has made wholesale changes to the team for the second Rugby Championship Test against Argentina in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Lodewyk de Jager will run out for his 50th cap, Marvin Orie will earn his first Test start and the uncapped Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg has been named on the replacements bench.
The starting team shows 11 changes from last week – six in the backline and five up front.
Nienaber opted to bring back a host of players who featured in the recent series win over the British and Irish Lions.
In total, the match-23 shows 17 changes from the squad that beat the Pumas 32-12 in the opening match last Saturday.
The only players who will start again this weekend are De Jager (lock), Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain and flank), Jasper Wiese (No.8), and Cobus Reinach (scrumhalf).
Reinach will start in the same backline that secured the Lions Series win in the final Test against the British & Irish Lions two weeks ago.
Handré Pollard is back at flyhalf, Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am return to the midfield, along with Makazole Mapimpi, Cheslin Kolbe (wings) and Willie le Roux (fullback) in the back three.
Orie, who has made all five of his Test appearances off the bench, along with Malcolm Marx (hooker) and Trevor Nyakane (prop) have been promoted to the starting team.
Prop Thomas du Toit will also start his first Test of the season.
The only change in the loose trio is at flank, where Franco Mostert steps in for Albertus Smith, who moves to the bench in place of the injured Marco van Staden.
The replacements bench, which features a six-two split of forwards yet again, also has a new look to it.
Janse van Rensburg is joined by Mbongeni Mbonambi (hooker), Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe (both props), all of whom return to the fold after getting a break last weekend.
The two backs on the bench are scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse – who scored a try on debut last weekend – and Damian Willemse (utility back).
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“A few players didn’t play last week after a physically demanding Lions Series, and are now back in the mix, while we also wanted to give a few players who have worked hard at training over the last two months a chance to get some valuable game time,” said Nienaber.
“This is a long season, so we need to get the balance right between building consistency in selection and in our performances, managing the players in terms of their workload, and building depth within our squad.”
Nienaber congratulated De Jager – SA Rugby’s Player of the Year in 2015, who made his Test debut a season earlier – on becoming the fourth player this season to earn a half century of Tests.
“Lood is a stalwart, and his work ethic is admirable, so we are excited to see him achieve this big feat,” said Nienaber.
“It takes special character to feature and perform consistently at international level and to play 50 Tests for the Springboks, and Lood is certainly deserving of this accolade.”
Nienaber was also pleased to see Janse van Rensburg earn his place amongst the replacements after making appearances for the South Africa ‘A’ team against the British & Irish Lions and Bulls last month.
“Nicolaas has been with the squad since our conditioning camp in Bloemfontein in June and it has been great to see him get stuck in at our training sessions, so this is a fantastic opportunity for him,” said the Springbok coach.
Zoning in on the fixture, Nienaber said they are expecting Argentina to come out firing this week.
“Argentina will come hard at us, so we know we need to perform much better than last week to get the desired result,” he said.
“While we were pleased with the victory and to start our Rugby Championship campaign on a winning note, there was a lot of room for improvement in our performance.
“We’ve identified a few areas we need to work on if we want to defend our title successfully, and we will work on those aspects of our game at training this week.
“Argentina plays with a lot of passion, much like we do, so they’ll want to show their fighting spirit, which will set the scene for another challenging Test match between us.”
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Marvin Orie, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Nicolaas van Rensburg, 20 Albertus Smith, 21 Dan du Preez, 22 Jaden Hendrikse, 23 Damian Willemse.
Date: Saturday, August 21
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 17.00 (12.00 Buenos Aires time; 15.00 GMT)
Referee: Karl Dickson (England)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), AJ Jacobs (South Africa)
TMO: Tom Foley (England)