WELLINGTON – Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus has named a much-changed side from the one that defeated the Wallabies by 35-17 in Johannesburg last weekend.
Experienced No 8 Duane Vermeulen will lead the Springboks against the All Blacks on Saturday, when the two traditional rivals clash in Wellington in the second round of the shortened 2019 Castle Lager Rugby Championship.
Eben Etzebeth (lock), last weekend’s Bok captain, and Pieter-Steph du Toit (loose forward) are the only two forwards who were retained from the win over the Wallabies, with Makazole Mapimpi (wing) the only backline player in the starting line-up who also started last weekend.
The rest of the Springbok starting lineup consists mainly of the group of players who travelled to New Zealand last Thursday, a few days before the rest of the South African tour party.
Willie le Roux returns at fullback while Cheslin Kolbe is drafted in on the right wing. Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am form a familiar looking midfield pairing and they will play next to Handré Pollard (flyhalf) and Faf de Klerk (scrumhalf).
Vermeulen, Du Toit and Kwagga Smith (flanker) form the loose trio, with the former Blitzbok speedster set to earn his second start in the Green and Gold following his international debut last year against Wales in Washington.
Franco Mostert partners Etzebeth in the second row and Malcolm Marx (hooker) is joined in the front row by Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe.
The forward bench consists of Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, RG Snyman and Francois Louw, while Herschel Jantjies, Frans Steyn and Jesse Kriel are the replacement backs.
BREAKING: #Springboks team to face the @AllBlacks announced 🏉🇿🇦 A new captain in Wellington on Saturday and Kwagga to start at 6⃣ Get Rassie's thoughts on the team and the Test here ⬇
The Boks only have two Tests left in the shortened Castle Lager Rugby Championship, and two more internationals against Argentina and Japan, before the start of the Rugby World Cup in September, and Erasmus is looking forward to seeing what his team can do against the defending world champions.
“We have the outmost respect for the All Blacks who are the undisputed number one rugby team in the world,” said Erasmus.
“We know we will have to be at our very best to be competitive against the All Blacks on Saturday and that is why we have sent a group of players in advance to Wellington, so they could acclimatise after the long trip over from South Africa.
“The New Zealanders are a very experienced and settled side while we have some catching up to do in terms of where the two sides are at the moment.
“They are bringing back their Crusaders players, who were all rested after the Vodacom Super Rugby final, so we are in for a huge battle against the best team in the world,” added Erasmus.
The Springbok team to face New Zealand in Wellington: