Cape Town – South Africa ‘A’ coach Johan Ackermann included four forwards with Test experience – team captain Oupa Mohoje, Nizaam Carr, Stephan Lewies and Vincent Koch – in his starting team for Friday’s first match against the England Saxons in Bloemfontein.
The match – the first of two against the visiting Saxons – kicks off at 19:10 at the Toyota Stadium in the Free State capital and will be broadcast live on SuperSport.
Ackermann has also included a further two Springboks on the bench – Coenie Oosthuizen and Piet van Zyl. They will be joined in the SA ‘A’ match-23 by six players who only got their first taste of Super Rugby earlier this year, in Leolin Zas, JD Schickerling (both starting), Lizo Gqoboka Jean-Luc du Preez, RG Snyman and Lukhanyo Am (all four on the bench).
The four members of the Springbok squad for the three-Test against Ireland, who were released to the SA ‘A’ squad, will all start on Friday. They are Garth April (flyhalf), Nic Groom (scrumhalf), Sikhumbuzo Notshe (flank) and Scarra Ntubeni (hooker).
“I think we have a brilliant mix of experienced players who have tasted what Test rugby is all about, as well as the four members of the Springbok squad, and exciting youngsters who will be pushing for higher honours in the coming seasons,” said Ackermann.
“There is a lot of value in having players with Test and Super Rugby experience working with these youngsters and I’m sure we’ll see some excitement on the field on Friday.
“But we’re up against a very formidable opponent and the Saxons have been together for a long time already, so our players know that they have to sharp, focused and on top of their game for the full 80 minutes on Friday.”
The second encounter between the SA ‘A’ side and the England Saxons is next Friday at Outeniqua Park in George.
SA ‘A’ team:
15 Leolin Zas, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Garth April, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Oupa Mohoje (captain), 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Thomas du Toit
Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Francois Brummer, 23 Lukhanyo Am