CAPE TOWN - Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber says SA director of rugby Rassie Erasmus will be “back on his post” when they face Argentina in their second Rugby Championship meeting on Saturday.
During the team announcement yesterday, Nienaber was asked whether the World Cup-winning Bok coach would be back with the team on Saturday as a “pitchside assistant”.
SA Rugby and Erasmus are currently preparing for an independent misconduct hearing related to the comments made by Erasmus regarding match officials and various discrepancies following the opening Test against the British & Irish Lions.
Against the Pumas last week, Erasmus was absent from his water-carrying duties, with Duane Vermeulen instead fulfilling that role.
Nienaber explained, however, that Erasmus had simply taken some time to be with his family after an extended period away from home.
“Last week we had Duane doing the job. Rassie had a couple of things to do because he hasn’t been with his family. I was fortunate enough to have my family with me there in the bubble. But with Rassie, due to logistical reasons, his family couldn’t make it,” Nienaber said.
“So, he had a little bit of a break, which is good to get refreshed. But he is back with us in the team, he came through all the correct protocols we have to do to get into the bubble. So he will be back on his post now.”
Nienaber has made 11 changes to the team that beat Argentina 32-12 in their Rugby Championship opener last week.
The team for the second Test features six changes to the backline and five upfront – with Nienaber bringing back a host of players who featured in the series win over the Lions.
There are a total of 17 changes to the matchday 23. The only players who will start again this weekend are Lood de Jager (in his 50th Test), Siya Kolisi, last week’s man of the match Jasper Wiese and Cobus Reinach.
In the backline, Handre Pollard is back at flyhalf, Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am return to midfield, and Makazole Mapimpi, Cheslin Kolbe and Willie le Roux are back in the starting back three.
Marvin Orie gets his first Test start while Malcolm Marx and Trevor Nyakane have also been promoted to the starting team, where Thomas du Toit will also start his first Test of the season.
In the loose trio, Franco Mostert comes in for Kwagga Smith who moves to the bench in the place of the injured Marco van Staden.
Springbok team to face Argentina at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi; Handre Pollard, Cobus Reinach, Jasper Wiese, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi, Lood de Jager, Marvin Orie, Thomas du Toit, Malcolm Marx, Trevor Nyakane;
Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Kwagga Smith, Dan du Preez, Jaden Hendrikse, Damian Willemse