DURBAN – Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber says concern over player welfare is responsible for a number of changes to the team to play Argentina in the Rugby Championship opener at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.
Nienaber was at pains to point out that in no way were the Boks disrespecting the Pumas. Rather, it is a case of the physical nature of the series against the Lions taking a toll on some of his players.
There are 10 changes in all to the starting lineup, with six of them in the backline while there is a new front row that includes fit-again Ox Nche at loosehead prop and hooker Joseph Dweba, who will make his debut.
🇿🇦 One Bok debut and a rejigged backline for Saturday's Test— Springboks (@Springboks) August 10, 2021
🗣️ "We need to stand up to that challenge in every contest" - coach Jacques Nienaber.
More on his selections ⤵️
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The hardy Pumas will possibly be even more physical than the Lions and that explains a return to a six-two split of forwards vs backs on the bench..
The only players to retain their starting places from the third Test against the Lions are captain Siya Kolisi , the second row of Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager, No 8 Jasper Wiese and Cobus Reinach (scrumhalf).
The industrious blindside flank Franco Mostert is given a well-deserved break and is replaced by Kwagga Smith.
Elton Jantjies starts at flyhalf and there is a new midfield of Frans Steyn and Jesse Kriel, with the tough-tackling duo of Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am enjoying a holiday.
The other changes in the backline see Damian Willemse replace Willie le Roux at fullback, while the Sharks pair of Sbu Nkosi and Aphelele Fassi come in on the wings for Cheslin Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi.
Among the substitutes, Marvin Orie and Dan du Preez have been drafted in to provide cover at lock and loose forward respectively, while the two backline replacements are Herschel Jantjies and Morné Steyn , the halfback pairing that played off the bench last week.
Springbok team: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Aphelele Fassi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Siya Kolisi (capt), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Wilco Louw (Harlequins, England), 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ox Nche
Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Dan du Preez, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Morne Steyn