Siya Kolisi leads star-studded Springboks team against Ireland

Siya Kolisi will lead a star-studded Springboks side against Ireland on Saturday. Picture: Franck Fife / AFP

Siya Kolisi will lead a star-studded Springboks side against Ireland on Saturday. Picture: Franck Fife / AFP

Published Jul 2, 2024


Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus has hauled out the big guns for the first Test against Ireland, with 20 Rugby World Cup winners set to feature in the matchday 23 for Saturday’s match at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

The three players in the match-day 23 who was not at the World Cup in France are prop Gerhard Steenekamp, lock Salmaan Moerat and utility back Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, who were picked on the bench as part of six-two split in favour of the forwards.

The team features eight changes to the one that beat Wales by 41-13 in London, as Erasmus welcomed back captain Siya Kolisi, Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Handre Pollard, Marco van Staden, RG Snyman and Steenekamp.

“This is the team we believe will give us the impetus we need against Ireland, who are the second highest ranked team in the world,” said Erasmus.

“We are blessed to have a lot of depth in our squad, and we are in a fortunate position to have several Rugby World Cup-winners in our ranks who know what it takes to perform at the highest level and play against the best teams in the world.

“The fact that most of these guys have played together is a bonus for us, and most of them have faced Ireland before so they are well aware of the challenge that lies ahead, especially since we haven’t beaten them since 2016.”

Erasmus said he was in a fortunate position to be able to call on so much Rugby World Cup winning experience.

“It’s great to be in such a position, and while it may serve as a mental boost, Ireland are a quality outfit and they’ll come out guns blazing. This is a new year for us with new systems in place, so while it certainly helps that most of the players have won a World Cup or two, this is a fresh chapter for us.”

Erasmus said he was excited to see what dimension Steenekamp, Feinberg-Mngomezulu and Moerat would bring to the game – in what will mark Steenekamp and Feinberg-Mngomezulu’s second Test matches – and said: “Gerhard made a strong statement in the front row against Argentina in Buenos Aires last year and we were equally pleased with how easily Sacha slotted in and the contribution he made against Wales.

“Sacha, similarly to Grant (Williams), also offers us additional options in the backline, as he can cover flyhalf and centre, while Grant is efficient at scrumhalf and wing, which places us in a good position with the six-two split.

“Salmaan, in turn, may only have a few Test caps, but he’s a former Junior Springbok captain, he captained the Stormers, and like Sacha, he came through our Elite Player Development (EPD) system, so they have been exposed to the way we do things at this level for some time now.

“This match will test their skills, but they are all quality players, in whom we have full faith, and it doesn’t get better to experience that against a team like Ireland.”

Springboks for Ireland:

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Kwagga Smith, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche.

Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Gerhard, Steenekamp, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 RG Snyman, Marco van Staden, 22 Grant Williams, 23 Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu.