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Springboks make three changes, including a switch at fly-half

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Jono Searle/Getty Images)

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Jacques Nienaber has made three changes to his Springboks team to face Scotland this weekend in Edinburgh following last weekend’s 23-18 win over Wales in Cardiff – Franco Mostert replaces Lood de Jager at lock, Elton Jantjies comes in at out-half in place of Handre Pollard while Willie le Roux is restored at full-back following Damian Willemse’ concussion.

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Elsewhere, Frans Steyn is in line to set a new South African record for the longest international rugby career. The veteran will edge Victor Matfield as the player with the longest Springbok career by becoming the first South African to play Test rugby in over 15 calendar years.

Whereas le Roux is promoted for the unavailable Willemse, Nienaber has decided to employ rotation regarding his two other XV changes with a view to the Springboks wrapping up their European tour with the November 20 meeting versus England at Twickenham. It means Pollard and de Jager will be held in reserve versus the Scots with Jantjies, the Springboks match-winner last month versus the All Blacks, and Mostert playing from the start.  

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“Scotland will be a force to be reckoned with at Murrayfield, so it was important for us to maintain continuity within our squad, while at the same time celebrating Jesse (Kriel) and Franco’s 50th caps and giving Elton a chance to start,” said Nienaber. “Elton has been training very well since the squad assembled and he has performed well every time he earned a run, so we thought it was the right time to hand him a start.

Nienaber also lauded Steyn who, at 34 years old, showed that he still has what it takes to star at the highest level of the game by being named man of the match against Wales last week. “Playing international rugby for 15 years is an extraordinary achievement and what makes this feat even more remarkable is that Frans continues to show his class despite being at the twilight of his career.

“Scotland have a quality team with a number of experienced players and a few British and Irish Lions players, so we are under no illusions about the challenge ahead,” added Nienaber. “They are a physical side with solid set pieces, but they also have the skills to run the ball, so we will have to be accurate on attack and defence. We laid a good foundation for the tour in Cardiff last week and we know what areas we would like to improve on. 

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“We created opportunities to score points last week, but we didn’t convert some of them, and we also conceded several penalties, so we need to step up our discipline as well. The scrums will be a key battle with former Springbok scrum coach Pieter de Villiers now serving that role for Scotland, but that is an area of the game we pride ourselves on too, so we need to be physical and accurate upfront.”

SPRINGBOKS (vs Scotland, Saturday)
15 – Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz) – 70 caps, 60 pts (12t)
14 – Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles) – 49 caps, 60 pts (12t)
13 – Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks) – 24 caps, 25 pts (5t)
12 – Damian de Allende (Munster) – 56 caps, 35 pts (7t)
11 – Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks) – 23 caps, 85 pts (17t)
10 – Elton Jantjies (NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes) – 42 caps, 312 pts (2t, 64c, 57p, 1d)
9 – Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers) – 19 caps, 25 pts (5t)
8 – Duane Vermeulen (Ulster) – 59 caps, 15 pts (3t)
7 – Kwagga Smith (Yamaha Júbilo) – 17 caps, 5 pts (1t)
6 – Siya Kolisi (captain, Cell C Sharks) – 61 caps, 30 pts (6t)
5 – Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) – 49 caps, 5pts (1t)
4 – Eben Etzebeth (Toulon) – 95 caps, 15 pts (3t)
3 – Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls) – 52 caps, 5pts (1t)
2 – Bongi Mbonambi (Cell C Sharks) – 46 caps, 45 pts (9t)
1 – Ox Nché (Cell C Sharks) – 7 caps, 0pts
Replacements:
16 – Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears) – 44 caps, 50 pts (10t)
17 – Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers) – 57 caps, 5pts (1t)
18 – Vincent Koch (Saracens) – 29 caps, 0 pts
19 – Lood de Jager (Sale Sharks) – 54 caps, 25 pts (5t)
20 – Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers) – 9 caps, 0 pts
21 – Cobus Reinach (Montpellier) – 19 caps, 40pts (8t)
22 – Handré Pollard (Montpellier) – 58 caps, 580 pts (6t, 83c, 124p, 4d)
23 – Frans Steyn (Toyota Cheetahs) – 72 caps, 144pts (11t, 7c, 22p, 3d)

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