JOHANNESBURG – Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus named his first team to play against Wales in Washington DC with seven uncapped players and lock Pieter-Steph du Toit as first-time captain.
Cheetahs prop Ox Nche, Bulls lock Jason Jenkins, Lions flank Kwagga Smith, Bulls scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl, Sharks wing Makazole Mapimpi and Bulls wing Travis Ismaiell will all be making their international debuts.
There are also going to be debuts off the bench for Akker van der Merwe, Thomas du Toit, Marvin Orie, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Embrose Papier and Robert du Preez.
Erasmus believes that he has selected the best group of players for the Wales Test, considering the fact that he had to leave some of his more experienced players behind ahead of the England series.
“With the 43 players we’ve picked, those were the best available guys, and we are splitting our resources in terms of strength and the way this team is representative, I am happy with that.”
Even with little time to spend with his squad, Erasmus believes that the three days in camp in Johannesburg before departing for Washington have been beneficial to the larger group, as they have been doing a lot of on-field routines.
“We tried our best to feed a lot of info to the guys and align to what we are trying to do. We are not going to change the skills and fundamentals. I think we will be okay,” Erasmus said.
The former Bok flank concedes that travelling long-haul late in the week is likely to catch up with his players on Saturday, but believes that the way they are going to play and the depth within the replacements will be crucial in not running out of steam.
“I think it is going to catch us, the way we play and use our subs will be important. It will catch us and we will have to handle it.”
The Springbok team is:
15 Curwin Bosch 14 Travis Ismaiel 13 Jesse Kriel 12 André Esterhuizen 11 Makazole Mapimpi 10 Elton Jantjies 9 Ivan van Zyl 8 Dan du Preez 7 Oupa Mohoje 6 Kwagga Smith 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit (captain) 4 Jason Jenkins 3 Wilco Louw 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle 1 Ox Nche.
Bench: 16 Akker van der Merwe 17 Steven Kitshoff 18 Thomas du Toit 19 Marvin Orie 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe 21 Embrose Papier 22 Robert du Preez 23 Warrick Gelant.
Non-playing reserves: Frans Malherbe, Nizaam Carr, Cameron Wright.