Jantjies leads SA ‘A’ that includes World Cup winners against the Bulls

17 July 2021 - 11:31
By liam del carme AND Liam Del Carme
Elton Jantjies during the Rugby Championship Test between the Springboks and the All Blacks in October 2017.
Image: Roger Sedres / Shutterstock.com Elton Jantjies during the Rugby Championship Test between the Springboks and the All Blacks in October 2017.

The SA ‘A’ team will have a more fit-for-purpose look when they take on the Bulls at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.

Last Wednesday's selection that faced the British and Irish Lions had a shadow Springbok look about it but the team for Saturday has several fringe and new selections.

Crucially, however, Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber named flyhalf Elton Jantjies as captain in a squad that features nine Rugby World Cup winners.

Nienaber, who made the trip from Johannesburg on Friday morning with a host of players who will begin their return-to-play protocols after recovering from Covid-19, made 12 changes to the starting team in line with his strategy to give as many players as possible the chance to stake a claim for places in the Test team.

Only three players who started in the team’s 17-13 win against the British and Irish Lions on Wednesday retained their places in the starting team for Saturday — Damian de Allende (centre), Marco van Staden (flank) and Joseph Dweba (hooker).

Aphelele Fassi (fullback), Rosko Specman (wing), Cobus Reinach (scrumhalf), Kwagga Smith (No 8), all of whom started in the Test against Georgia two weeks ago, are back in the starting line-up.

Fassi, who made his Test debut at wing, will be in the back three with Specman and the uncapped Yaw Penxe, while exciting centre Wandisile Simelane will join forces with the experienced De Allende in the midfield.

Nienaber named an interesting loose trio featuring Smith, Rynhardt Elstadt and Van Staden, while Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg is promoted from the bench to the starting team where he will start alongside Jean-Luc du Preez in the second row.

Dweba, meanwhile, will pack down with vice-captain Vincent Koch and Coenie Oosthuizen in the front row.

The expanded replacements bench also has a completely different look to it with Fez Mbatha, Lizo Ggoboka, Thomas du Toit and Wilco Louw, who joined the squad earlier in the week as additional prop cover, named alongside Jasper Wiese, Sanele Nohamba, Sbu Nkosi, Jesse Kriel, and Damian Willemse.

“We wanted another SA 'A' match to give all the players a chance to show what they are capable of before we enter the Test series against the British and Irish Lions, and we are excited to give these players this valuable opportunity,” said Nienaber.

“With several changes to the match-day squad, there won’t be much continuity from Wednesday’s match, but the game time and the chance for these players to show what they can offer on the field will be invaluable with an eye on improving our match fitness and building momentum before we enter the Test series.”

The match will kick off at 1pm, while the Stormers' clash with the British and Irish Lions at the same venue commences at 6pm.

SA ‘A’ — Aphelele Fassi; Yaw Penxe, Wandisile Simelane, Damian de Allende, Rosko Specman; Elton Jantjies (captain), Cobus Reinach; Kwagga Smith, Rynhardt Elstadt, Marco van Staden; Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Jean-Luc du Preez, Vincent Koch, Joseph Dweba, Coenie Oosthuizen.

Substitutes: Fez Mbatha, Thomas du Toit, Wilco Louw, Japser Wiese, Sanele Nohamba, Sbu Nkosi, Jesse Kriel, Damian Willemse, Lizo Gqoboka.