CAPE TOWN – Steven Kitshoff will wear the Springbok No 1 jersey for the first time in Saturday's Rugby Championship clash against the All Blacks at Newlands.
Bok coach Allister Coetzee said at the team announcement on Thursday afternoon experienced Tendai Mtawarira has to take care of personal and family matters, which sees Kitshoff get a long-awaited chance to make an impact from the start.
Coetzee sprung a number of surprises upfront, though. Francois Louw will run out at No 8 in place of the injured Uzair Cassiem, with Pieter-Steph du Toit starting at blindside flank ahead of a specialist No 7 like Jean-Luc du Preez.
There is another new face in the second row, with Lood de Jager making a comeback into the starting XV in place of Franco Mostert, who drops down to the bench.
Coetzee said that he wanted to pick the most experienced players possible.
“It’s a well-deserved starting opportunity for Steven. He has been working extremely hard in the last two seasons and fully deserves his chance,” said Coetzee.
“Wilco has established himself during the Super Rugby season, while he also continued that form in the Currie Cup. When he gets the opportunity to play, it will be something special on his home ground.
“Francois is a seasoned openside flanker, and although it’s his first Test start in the No 8 jersey, he has a good understanding of the role we expect from him. I believe his vast experience will see him settle in quickly in this role. Jean-Luc du Preez will again provide good impact off the bench.”
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Francois Louw, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Bench: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Handré Pollard, 23 Damian de Allende.