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Erasmus rings Springbok changes

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Duane Vermeulen given the captain's armband as Rassie Erasmus rings the changes for All Blacks test

No 8 Duane Vermeulen will lead the Springboks against the All Blacks on Saturday, when the two rivals clash in Wellington this week. 

Rassie Erasmus has rung the changes from the size that comprehensively outplayed the Wallabies in Johannesburg last weekend.

Eben Etzebeth, last weekend’s captain, and Pieter-Steph du Toit are the only two forwards retained from the 34-15 win, with Makazole Mapimpi holding is place on the end of the backline.

The rest of the Springbok starting lineup consists mainly of the group of players who travelled to New Zaland 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 combine in the midfield after last running out together in last year’s win at the same venue. Handré Pollard and Faf de Klerk form the halves pairing.

 Vermeulen, Du Toit and Kwagga Smith make up the back row whilst Franco Mostert partners Etzebeth to lock out the scrum. Hooker Malcolm Marx 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.

Erasmus says the Boks will not be carried away by their home win over the Wallabies, which was South Africa’s biggest win over Australia in the last five years. 

“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.

 Regarding the decision to hand the leadership duties to Vermeulen, Erasmus said: “It is important that we continue to build on our leadership for this important year, especially while our regular skipper, Siya Kolisi, is out of action because of injury rehabilitation.

 “Duane is an experienced captain and we have a strong group of leaders in the team, which includes Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit, who have both captained the Springboks before, as well as a number of other franchise captains.”

Springboks: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Eztebeth, 3 Frans Mahlerbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff.

Reserves: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Jesse Kriel.

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Duane Vermeulen given the captain's armband as Rassie Erasmus rings the changes for All Blacks test