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Eight changes for Springboks, including debut for a 19-year-old

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Brenton Edwards/AFP via Getty Images)

Head coach Jacques Nienaber has made eight changes to his starting Springboks team to take on the Wallabies in this Saturday’s Rugby Championship rematch in Sydney. The South Africans had made only two alterations for last weekend’s round three encounter in Adelaide, recalling the fit-again Faf de Klerk at scrum-half and handing Warrick Gelant a rare start out wide.


Hopes that keeping changes to a minimum would inspire a response following the Johannesburg loss to the All Blacks were misplaced, however, as the Wallabies won 25-17 in Adelaide and Springboks coach Nienaber has now taken action due to form and injuries in an attempt to get his team back on track.

Winger Canan Moodie, 19, will make his Springboks debut in a team in which Handre Pollard, Lukhanyo Am and Pieter-Steph du Toit – all starters last weekend – were all ruled out due to knee injuries.

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There are four changes in total in the backline. With Pollard absent, Damian Willemse switches from full-back to out-half, an alteration that has allowed the recall of Willie le Roux to No15. Moodie takes over from Gelant on the wing, Jesse Kriel is at centre in place of the injured Am while Jaden Hendrikse takes over from de Klerk at No9.

In the pack, Malcolm Marx starts at hooker in place of Joseph Dweba, Steven Kitshoff is at loosehead instead of Ox Nche while the other two changes are in the back row where Jasper Wiese is at No8 for the benched Duane Vermeulen and Franco Mostert at openside for the injured du Toit.


Nienaber has stuck with a five forwards/three backs split on a bench where Elton Jantjies misses out with an injured hand. Deon Fourie is the replacement hooker with Nche and Trevor Nyakane covering at prop. Cobus Reinach will back-up Hendrikse at scrum-half, Frans Steyn provides cover fly-half and centre, while Gelant will offer options on the wing and full-back.


Springboks boss Nienaber said: “We selected a team we thought would be best for this match given that we have several players out with injuries and with an eye on how we want to play. Handre, Lukhanyo, Elton and Pieter-Steph are all carrying injuries which adds to a list that includes Cheslin Kolbe and Sbu Nkosi, while Kurt-Lee Arendse is also out serving a suspension, and this has forced our hand to make a few changes in some positions.

“With both fly-halves injured, Damian was the natural choice at No10 where he has slotted in for us a lot. He is also becoming a settled player in our team with over 20 Test caps to his name. This will also be a great test for Canan, who was a stand-out player for the Vodacom Bulls this season in the United Rugby Championship. He is a very talented player, who will enjoy this opportunity.

“Cobus at his best is world class and having seen what he offers us at training we think he’s close to that form. With him, Warrick and Frans Steyn on the bench, we have sufficient cover among the backs.

Switching to the forwards, the coach added: “With Bongi (Mbonambi) and Trevor injured in the last few weeks we were in a position where we could test other combinations and we got some good answers in that regard.


“This weekend we opted to make a few switches with Ox and Trevor playing off the bench along with Deon Fourie. With Bongi and Malcolm both settled with over 50 Test caps each, it was always our plan to give Joseph and Deon a chance at hooker, and this week Deon gets a run.

“We had a thorough review of our performance against Australia last week, and the most disappointing aspect is that were dominant in several areas of the game, but we struggled to show that on the scoreboard. This week is a final for us to stay in the competition and we are expecting Australia to be just as desperate, but so are we.

“We let ourselves down in the last two games and we are determined to rectify that this week and change our fortunes in Australia. We will prepare as well as possible this week to stay in the hunt for the title.”

Springboks (vs Australia, Saturday)
15 – Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz) – 76 caps, 65 pts (13t)
14 – Canan Moodie (Vodacom Bulls) – uncapped
13 – Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles) – 53 caps, 60 pts (12t)
12 – Damian de Allende (Wild Knights) – 63 caps, 35 pts (7t)
11 – Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks) – 30 caps, 105 pts (21t)
10 – Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) – 21 caps, 12 pts (1t, 2c, 1p)
9 – Jaden Hendrikse (Cell C Sharks) – 7 caps, 5 pts (1t)
8 – Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers) – 15 caps, 0 pts
7 – Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) – 56 caps, 5pts (1t)
6 – Siya Kolisi (captain, Cell C Sharks) – 68 caps, 35 pts (7t)
5 – Lood de Jager (Wild Knights) – 61 caps, 25 pts (5t)
4 – Eben Etzebeth (Cell C Sharks) – 103 caps, 15 pts (3t)
3 – Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers) – 51 caps, 5 pts (1t)
2 – Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears) – 52 caps, 55 pts (11t)
1 – Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers) – 64 caps, 5 pts (1t)

16 – Deon Fourie (DHL Stormers) – 1 cap, 0pts
17 – Ox Nche (Cell C Sharks) – 12 caps, 0pts
18 – Trevor Nyakane (Racing 92) – 57 caps, 5pts (1t)
19 – Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs) – 24 caps, 15 pts (3t)
20 – Duane Vermeulen (Ulster) – 63 caps, 15 pts (3t)
21 – Cobus Reinach (Montpellier) – 21 caps, 40pts (8t)
22 – Frans Steyn (Toyota Cheetahs) – 75 caps, 150 pts (11t, 7c, 24p, 3d)
23 – Warrick Gelant (Racing 92) – 11 caps, 15 pts (3t)


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