Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has picked five new caps in the match-23 for Saturday’s first Test against
Lions fullback Andries Coetzee, his franchise teammates Courtnall Skosan (wing) and Ross Cronjé (scrumhalf), as well as Cheetahs wing Raymond Rhule will turn out in the starting line-up for the Boks for the first time at Loftus Versfeld.
Stormers utility back Dillyn Leyds could make his Test bow off the bench.
In somewhat of a surprise call, the Bok coach opted not to hand Frans Steyn a start in his return to the team for the first time since 2012, as he rather went for an all-Bulls centre combination in Jan Serfontein and Jesse Kriel.
The Bulls have battled to get going in Super Rugby this year, which makes Coetzee’s selection even more questionable, but his hand was somewhat forced by the absence of the injured Lionel Mapoe and Lukhanyo Am.
The selection of Rhule above Leyds is sure to raise eyebrows too, as the latter has been outstanding for the Stormers.
The loose trio was one of the hotly debated areas in the build-up, and the coach has decided to reward form by picking Oupa Mohoje at blindside flank alongside openside Siya Kolisi and new captain Warren Whiteley at No 8.
Franco Mostert is also a deserved selection at No 5 lock, although Eben Etzebeth is fortunate to be picked ahead of his Stormers mate Pieter-Steph du Toit.
Tighthead Frans Malherbe can also count himself a bit lucky to claim the No 3 jersey after he spent most of the Super Rugby season behind Wilco Louw at the Stormers, with Lions prop Ruan Dreyer a strong contender for the starting berth.
Unbelievably, Dreyer hasn’t even made the bench, with perennial “impact” front-rower Coenie Oosthuizen the back-up tighthead.
“I am excited about our loose trio combination. Siya Kolisi has played at openside for the Springboks and the Stormers, and I know he will be able to do the job for us,” Coetzee said.
“Oupa Mohoje has good ball-carrying abilities, he is an excellent lineout option, and I think the combination will complement each other. On the bench we have a young and exciting player in Jean-Luc du Preez, whom I sure will make a big impact.”
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Bench: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Dillyn Leyds.