Rassie Erasmus has opted for three debutants in the Springbok starting line-up for Saturday’s first Test against England at Ellis Park, with wings Aphiwe Dyantyi and Sbu Nkosi, as well as lock RG Snyman named in the team on Thursday.
The Boks are also sweating on yet another potential injury blow this week as tighthead prop Trevor Nyakane was bracketed with Wilco Louw due to a rib injury, so Louw may double up from last weekend’s 22-20 defeat to Wales in Washington, where he started in the No 3 jersey.
Thomas du Toit – who made his Test debut against Wales – has been named on the bench, with Nyakane given until Friday to prove his fitness.
Dyantyi has been rewarded for a stellar Super Rugby season for the Lions, with his electric pace and ability to be in the right place at the right time getting him the nod at left wing.
The 23-year-old scored five tries in five matches for the Lions at the start of the season, although a pectoral muscle injury has hampered him. So Erasmus will hope that Dyantyi would have regained his sharpness over the last few weeks after he stayed behind for the Welsh Test.
Nkosi was outstanding in 2017, with injuries also denying him a Test cap last year. But while he has been a bit up and down this season – most notably during the Sharks’ defeat to the Jaguares in Buenos Aires – he is an exciting prospect with ball-in-hand who isn’t shy to get stuck in with the physical stuff.
The same can be said for the other debutant Snyman, who has showed off some amazing handling skills not far off that of All Black star Brodie Retallick.
“We have some good experienced players while there are some really exciting young men who have earned their opportunity to play for the Springboks,” Erasmus said on Thursday.
“I am especially pleased for the three newcomers, Aphiwe, Sbu and RG, and I am looking forward to see how they will perform in tough Test match conditions against a formidable opponent.”
The rest of the team is as expected, with overseas-based players Willie le Roux, Faf de Klerk and Duane Vermeulen included, while last week’s captain Pieter-Steph du Toit will play off the bench, with Siya Kolisi set to lead the Boks for the first time on Saturday.
15 Willie le Roux 14 Sbu Nkosi 13 Lukhanyo Am 12 Damian de Allende 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi 10 Handré Pollard 9 Faf de Klerk 8 Duane Vermeulen 7 Jean-Luc du Preez 6 Siya Kolisi (captain) 5 Franco Mostert 4 RG Snyman 3 Trevor Nyakane/Wilco Louw 2 Bongi Mbonambi 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Bench: 16 Akker van der Merwe 17 Steven Kitshoff 18 Thomas du Toit 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe 21 Ivan van Zyl 22 Elton Jantjies 23 Warrick Gelant.