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Springboks name 1st Test XV containing 11 World Cup final starters

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by SA Rugby)

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Jacques Nienaber has named his Springboks team for next Saturday’s first Test versus the Lions in Cape Town, a starting XV that contains nine of the starters that beat the Lions last Wednesday when they lined out as a South Africa A team. The starting XV also contains eleven of the same starters that defeated England to win the November 2019 World Cup final in Yokohama.


Aside from their July 3 win over Georgia, the Springboks haven’t played another Test match in 20 months since conquering the world in Japan and they come into their three-game Lions series under the cloud of a preparation-damaging virus outbreak in recent weeks in their camp as well as the confidence piercing defeat for South Africa A last Saturday versus the Bulls franchise team.

That most recent South Africa A selection contained just three of the same starters that ran out three days earlier versus the Lions, Nienaber opting instead to test the depth of the squad left at his disposal, but the rookie head coach has now reverted to backing most of the side that gave the Lions a first-half lesson last week, leading 17-3 at the break before clinging onto a 17-13 success after getting held scoreless in the second half.

Video Spacer

Warren Gatland on the Lions’ build-up to the first Test versus the Springboks
Video Spacer
Warren Gatland on the Lions’ build-up to the first Test versus the Springboks

Nienaber’s selection also finds a place for famed Springboks skipper Siya Kolisi. The World Cup-winning captain led the team to their recent Test win in Pretoria over the Georgians but he contracted the virus before the squad moved onto Cape Town following the cancellation of their second Test versus Georgia.

Kolisi, Makazole Mapimpi and Ox Nche were the last group of players to report for duty at the Springbok camp in Cape Town on Monday morning after completing their mandatory self-isolation in Johannesburg and they were all cleared to return to the field on Monday afternoon following their medical screening.

The Springboks team for their opening clash with the Lions wasn’t supposed to be announced until Wednesday but Nienaber decided to bring the announcement forward by 24 hours as the mind games continued between his camp and Warren Gatland in the lead-up to Saturday’s meeting in Cape Town.


“We have played three matches in the last few weeks with the Springboks facing Georgia and South Africa A lining up against the Lions and the Vodacom Bulls, and the first two matches, in particular, allowed us to settle a few player combinations that haven’t played since the Rugby World Cup final,” said Nienaber.

“We planned our team selections carefully, which is why it was important for us to play a third match after the second Test against Georgia was cancelled, and we know what the players we selected can do. The fact that most of the players participated in the Rugby World Cup means they know one another well on and off the field and as coaches, we know what they have to offer after having worked with most of them for several years.

“Some of the players didn’t have Covid-19 symptoms at all, they have been managed according to their individual needs, and they have really impressed me with their intensity and enthusiasm at training. The well-being of our players is of paramount importance, so we have been working closely with the medical team to work out what would be the best course of action for each player over the three-Test series.”


SPRINGBOKS (vs Lions, Saturday)
15 – Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz) – 62 caps, 60 pts (12t)
14 – Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse) – 14 caps, 40 pts (8t)
13 – Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks) – 15 caps, 15 pts (3t)
12 – Damian de Allende (Munster) – 47 caps, 30 pts (6t)
11 – Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks) – 14 caps, 70 pts (14t)
10 – Handré Pollard (vice-captain – Montpellier) – 49 caps, 465pts (6t, 78c, 89p, 4d)
9 – Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks) – 30 caps, 20 pts (4t)
8 – Kwagga Smith (Yamaha Júbilo) – 7 caps, 5 pts (1t)
7 – Pieter-Steph du Toit (DHL Stormers) – 56 caps, 25 pts (5t)
6 – Siya Kolisi (captain – Cell C Sharks) – 51 caps, 30 pts (6t)
5 – Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) – 40 caps, 5pts (1t)
4 – Eben Etzebeth (Toulon) – 86 caps, 15 pts (3t)
3 – Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls) – 43 caps, 5 pts (1t)
2 – Bongi Mbonambi (DHL Stormers) – 37 caps, 40 pts (8t)
1 – Ox Nché (Cell C Sharks) – 2 caps, 0 pts

16 – Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears) – 34 caps, 30 pts (6t)
17 – Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers) – 48 caps, 5pts (1t)
18 – Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers) – 39 caps, 5pts (1t)
19 – Lood de Jager (Sale Sharks) – 45 caps, 25 pts (5t)
20 – Rynhardt Elstadt (Toulouse) – 2 caps, 0 pts
21 – Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers) – 11 caps, 25 pts (5t)
22 – Elton Jantjies (Pau) – 38 caps, 283 pts (2t, 63c, 49p)
23 – Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) – 7 caps, 5pts (1t)


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