Jacques Nienaber reveals All Blacks Test not the end of Springboks’ shuffle

Published Jul 11, 2023


Coach Jacques Nienaber says the Springboks side selected to play the All Blacks on Saturday was designed to have the ideal balance between players battle-hardened from playing Australia and fresh players who went early to New Zealand.

The front row of Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi and Frans Malherbe resume where they left off from the Springboks’ win over the Wallabies at Loftus Versfeld while two backline players, fullback Willie le Roux and Lukhanyo Am, start once more at the Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland.

“It is a case of pros and cons in selecting this team,” Nienaber said. “We tried to strike a balance between players who had enjoyed a good hit-out against the Wallabies and guys who have adjusted to the change in time zones, and we feel we got this right.”

Nienaber said this Springboks’ team selection had been premeditated and he would not be drawn on whether individual performances against the Wallabies had had an influence.

“I am not going to say if there were guys who played their way in,” he said. “We have been open with the players from the start as to who would start against Australia and who against New Zealand. We always wanted that blend and that is why we more or less had two squads.

“The guys who went early to New Zealand first spent a lot of time in Pretoria helping prepare the team for Australia and now all the guys who have come over later will prepare this team for the All Blacks,” Nienaber added.

“The first thing is that we know we need a squad system for us to be competitive in the Rugby Championship and to give us a chance of winning it,” Nienaber said. “We also need a squad for the two warm-up games against Wales and New Zealand, then a squad for the World Cup .

“There was never an A and B squad for these first two games. We felt the team for Loftus Versfeld was the right mix for Australia and for the All Blacks we picked a team that will give us the best chance of beating a different kind of team.”

The loose trio of flanks Kwagga Smith and Franco Mostert and No 8 Jasper Wiese is an unusual one at first glance, but Nienaber says it makes sense.

“They might not have played together much in this combination but each has experience in his position,” Nianeber explained. “Franco has played a lot of Test rugby at blindside flank, especially in 2021, and Kwagga is at home at openside while Jasper has played good rugby for us in his customary position of No 8.”

Springbok team to face the All Blacks:

15 Willie le Roux 14 Cheslin Kolbe 13 Lukhanyo Am 12 Damian de Allende 11 Makazole Mapimpi 10 Damian Willemse 9 Faf de Klerk 8 Jasper Wiese 7 Franco Mostert 6 Kwagga Smith 5 Lood de Jager 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain) 3 Frans Malherbe 2 Bongi Mbonambi 1 Steven Kitshoff.

Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx 17 Thomas du Toit 18 Vincent Koch 19 RG Snyman 20 Pieter-Steph du Toit 21 Duane Vermeulen 22 Grant Williams 23 Manie Libbok.

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