Rassie Erasmus has handed Trevor Nyakane a big chance to prove that he should be the first-choice Springbok tighthead by giving him a start in Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash against Argentina in Salta.
Nyakane, along with Tendai Mtawarira and Bongi Mbonambi, have been rewarded for their impact in the second half of the 16-16 draw against the All Blacks in Wellington.
They replace Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx and Frans Malherbe, and the vote of confidence from Erasmus could see Mtawarira, Mbonambi and Nyakane line up in the Rugby World Cup opener against the All Blacks in Yokohama on 21 September.
They will face another serious challenge from an Argentinian pack that will be desperate to prove a point after a disappointing defeat to the Wallabies in Brisbane.
“This Test is a good opportunity for Bongi and Trevor to start next to ‘Beast’, who has a wealth of experience from playing more than 100 Tests for the Springboks,” Erasmus said on Wednesday.
“We all know about the massively difficult forward threat of Argentina. However, they are a clever side with skill and pace out wide, so we will have to be alert on defence right until the final whistle.”
The Bok coach opted to keep the rest of the starting team intact from the All Black game, and may have shown his hand in the most contested areas, such as the midfield and second row.
Damian de Allende has been preferred to Frans Steyn – who is on the bench – and André Esterhuizen, and will partner the first-choice No 13 Lukhanyo Am, with Jesse Kriel also among the reserves.
Franco Mostert also continues as the No 5 lock, somewhat surprisingly ahead of RG Snyman, who arguably needed some game time ahead of the World Cup.
With Siya Kolisi making his return to rugby for Western Province on Friday, Kwagga Smith was retained at openside flank, with Francois Louw the back-up and Marcell Coetzee left out.
💥BREAKING! New Bok front row for Salta showdown— Springboks (@Springboks) August 7, 2019
🗣 "The Pumas will be fired up for this one"
5⃣3⃣ Beast to equal SA record held by Habana
🔗 https://t.co/qekDMVyFdb#StrongerTogether @Official_Bozza @MTNza @ASICS_ZA @FNBSA @LandRoverZA @SamsungSA pic.twitter.com/eUEtlWgsog
The selection is also a statement of intent from Erasmus that he wants the Boks to win the Rugby Championship.
The South Africans will know whether they need to win with a bonus point or not at kickoff (9.40pm SA time), as the All Blacks will take on the Wallabies in Perth earlier on Saturday.
15 Willie le Roux 14 Cheslin Kolbe 13 Lukhanyo Am 12 Damian de Allende 11 Makazole Mapimpi 10 Handre Pollard 9 Faf de Klerk 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain) 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit 6 Kwagga Smith 5 Franco Mostert 4 Eben Etzebeth 3 Trevor Nyakane 2 Bongi Mbonambi 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Bench: 16 Malcolm Marx 17 Steven Kitshoff 18 Frans Malherbe 19 RG Snyman 20 Francois Louw 21 Herschel Jantjies 22 Frans Steyn 23 Jesse Kriel.@ashfakmohamed