Bok coach Nienaber makes three changes to the starting line-up against British and Irish Lions
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has made three changes to the starting line-up for the deciding match against the British and Irish Lions at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
In this match where centre Damian de Allende will reach the milestone of 50 Bok caps‚ the changes were personnel and the other one was positional due to injuries to the influential flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit and scrumhalf Faf de Klerk.
Du Toit‚ who is the World Rugby Player of the Year in 2019‚ is out with a knock to the shoulder he suffered during the second Test and as a result Franco Mostert moves from lock to the side of the scrum.
Lood de Jager is promoted from the bench to the starting team and will line-up alongside Eben Etzebeth in the second row and the other change is at scrumhalf where Cobus Reinach replaces De Klerk who has been ruled out with muscle strain in his leg.
Nienaber opted to name three backs on the bench‚ with flyhalf Morné Steyn‚ who is in line for his first Test since 2016‚ joining scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies and utility back Damian Willemse.
Should Steyn‚ who kicked the penalty goal that sealed the series victory in 2009 take the field on Saturday‚ it will mark a significant occasion for the player as he will achieve a rare feat of participating in back-to-back Lions Series tournaments.
“This is a massive Test for us with the Castle Lager Lions Series on the line‚ so it was important for us to maintain consistency in selection following on last week’s performance‚” said Nienaber.
“Pieter-Steph du Toit was ruled out due to the shoulder injury he suffered last week‚ but we are fortunate to have experienced players such as Franco and Lood who can step in and who have the physical presence we need in those roles.
“Cobus is also an experienced player with a calm head and who can handle pressure‚ and we believe he will be able to dictate play well alongside Handré Pollard‚ while Herschel Jantjies has been great in adding the necessary spark we need off the bench‚ and will be asked to fulfil that role again.”
Nienaber is thrilled to see midfielder De Allende‚ who made his Test debut against Argentina in 2014‚ reach a significant career milestone in his Springboks career.
“It doesn’t get any bigger than earning a 50th Test cap in a series decider against the British & Irish Lions.
“We are excited for Damian and we know what it will mean to him and the team to win this match. He has been a key figure in the Bok team in the last few seasons and it gives us great pride to see him achieve this feat.”
Nienaber was also pleased to see Steyn back in the Bok jersey for the first time in years.
“I am delighted for Morné‚ he is a world class player and his work ethic and positive attitude on and off the field since joining the team in Bloemfontein has been impressive‚” said the Bok coach.
“He can also perform under extreme pressure‚ as he shown for the Springboks and the Bulls‚ and that skill will be invaluable in such a vital Test.”
Looking forward to the match‚ Nienaber said he is expecting an epic battle and that the Boks were ready to give everything to win the Series.
“This group of players are among a handful of players in the history of South African rugby that have an opportunity to clinch a series against the Lions after winning the Rugby World Cup‚ and every player in this squad understands what a rare honour that is‚” said Nienaber.
“I don’t think one needs any more motivation than that to win this weekend. We are preparing for a physical encounter and we know that every small battle will count if we want to win the series.
“This match is as important to us as it is for the Lions‚ so we know it is going to be tight‚ and we will have to capitalise on every opportunity we have to score points‚ and be effective in every area of our game.
“As Springboks‚ big moments such as these excite us‚ so we plan to go out there and give everything we have to clinch the Series.”
Mathieu Raynal (France) will referee the match‚ with Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand) and Nic Berry (Australia) serving as assistant referees‚ while Marius Jonker (South Africa) will be the television match official.
Springbok Team: 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. Siya Kolisi‚ 5. Lood de Jager‚ 4. Eben Etzebeth‚ 3. Frans Malherbe‚ 2. Bongi Mbonambi‚ 1. Steven Kitshoff‚
Replacements: 16. Malcolm Marx‚ 17. Trevor Nyakane‚ 18. Vincent Koch‚ 19. Marco van Staden‚ 20. Kwagga Smith‚ 21. Herschel Jantjies‚ 22. Morné Steyn‚ 23. Damian Willemse