Vermeulen to start against All Blacks at Ellis Park, Malherbe to earn his 50th Bok cap
Duane Vermeulen is back.
The vastly experienced No 8 has been included in the Springboks starting line-up to take on New Zealand in the second Rugby Championship clash at Ellis Park on Saturday.
On Tuesday, Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber announced the squad where he made five changes to his starting line-up — two of which were injury forced — for this match where Frans Malherbe will make his 50th Test appearance.
The three rotational changes sees the imposing Vermeulen walk back into the starting line-up after recovering from surgery to his knee to take over from Jasper Wiese.
Elsewhere, Bongi Mbonambi slots back in at hooker after Malcolm Marx earned a start last week to celebrate his 50th Test cap and Ox Nche takes over from Trevor Nyakane at loosehead prop.
The two changes in the backline see Jaden Hendrikse coming in at scrumhalf for Faf de Klerk, who has been placed on a return-to-play protocol after suffering concussion in the team’s 26-10 victory against New Zealand last week.
Jesse Kriel will start on the right wing in place of Kurt-Lee Arendse, who also suffered concussion and has been released from the squad after being handed a four-week suspension for a dangerous tackle in the match.
While Mbonambi and Marx switch roles between the starting team and replacements bench, Vermeulen’s inclusion sees Wiese take the role of an impact player in place of lock Salmaan Moerat.
Herschel Jantjies fills the void left by Hendrikse’s promotion to the starting team.
“We made a few changes to the team, but Duane, Jesse and Herschel are all experienced players who know our systems well and have been stalwarts for the Boks,” said Nienaber.
“Ox has also shown his ability to make his presence felt in the front row, so he is back in the mix.”
Nienaber said they were mindful that Vermeulen is returning from injury but this prompted him to tweak his forward cover on the bench.
“Duane has a massive presence on the field and there is no bigger game for him to make his comeback from injury than facing the All Blacks.
“He is an enforcer on attack and defence and we know he will give everything against a physical All Blacks team that are desperate to bounce back strongly from a challenging run of results.
“Jasper is also a warrior and we know he will have an equally strong presence when he takes the field.
“Jesse has played more than 50 Tests and has been waiting in the wings for his chance. He’s played wing for us before, so we know what he can bring to the game.
“We are also excited to welcome back Herschel, who has played an immense role to help prepare the playing squad for the past two Tests.”
15. Damian Willemse, 14. Jesse Kriel, 13. Lukhanyo Am, 12. Damian de Allende, 11. Makazole Mapimpi, 10. Handré Pollard, 9. Jaden Hendrikse, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5. Lood de Jager, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Frans Malherbe, 2. Bongi Mbonambi, 1. Ox Nche
Replacements: 16. Malcolm Marx, 17. Steven Kitshoff, 18. Vincent Koch, 19. Franco Mostert, 20. Jasper Wiese, 21. Kwagga Smith, 22. Hershel Jantjies, 23. Willie le Roux
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