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Faf de Klerk's not so shock axeing explained

By Ian Cameron
(Photo by Scott Powlick / www.photosport.nz)

South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber has explained why he has decided to select Jaden Hendrikse ahead of Springboks stalwart Faf de Klerk for the decisive third Test in Cape Town this week.

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De Klerk’s omission was the biggest selection talking point after the Nienaber named his 23 this morning – a team widely thought to be the Bok’s strongest side.

In truth the former Sale Sharks nine’s performance in the first Test against Wales in Pretoria was pretty flat by his own high standards.

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“The plan, go to Cape Town, seal the series” – South Africa rugby back themselves for the final test

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“The plan, go to Cape Town, seal the series” – South Africa rugby back themselves for the final test

In stark contrast, Hendrikse put in an explosive shift for the experimental side selected for the second Test.

Nienaber recalled eight of the Springboks’ 2019 World Cup-winning team for the decider.

Only fly-half Handre Pollard, Hendrikse, prop Trevor Nyakane, lock Eben Etzebeth and flanker Pieter-Steph Du Toit remain from the defeat in Bloemfontein.

“We selected a team and player combinations that we think will be the best for this specific game,” said Nienaber, who has named six forwards and just two backs on the replacements’ bench.

“We had an honest discussion with the players telling them what we require from them this weekend and what we would like to see in terms of their performance, and hopefully they can produce the goods and we can get the desired result.

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“We have high standards as a team and we would like to maintain that and build momentum with a challenging season lying ahead.”

Nienaber said they wanted to reward Hendrikse for his fine form.

“We all know what Faf brings and what a world-class player he is,” Nienaber commented. “However, we also saw Jaden’s performance (in the second Test) and thought he played really well. There is lots of competition and players knocking hard on the door.

“For established players who have been here before, won a World Cup and a Lions series, there will be a key focus on performing (well) week in and week out. But we also want to reward players who are knocking on the door (like Hendrikse).

“Jaden will now know that Faf will come hard at him to get his spot back, and the challenge for him will be to keep putting in consistent performances.”

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Team: D Willemse; C Kolbe, L Am, D De Allende, M Mapimpi; H Pollard, J Hendrikse; T Nyakane, B Mbonambi, F Malherbe, E Etzebeth, L De Jager, S Kolisi (capt), P-S Du Toit, J Wiese.

Replacements: M Marx, S Kitshoff, V Koch, F Mostert, K Smith, E Louw, F De Klerk, W Le Roux.

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