Cape Town – Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has made five changes to his match-23 – four of them necessitated by injury – as the South Africans look to bounce back from when they face Ireland in the second Test in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The two changes in the starting line-up are because of injury, with Pieter-Steph du Toit and Elton Jantjies replacing Lood de Jager and Pat Lambie respectively, while the Lions duo of Franco Mostert and Ruan Combrinck are on the bench and could make their Test debut at their home ground. In the final change, Morne Steyn is added to the bench as flyhalf cover.
The second Test of the three-match series kicks off at 17:00 at the Ellis Park in Johannesburg. Ireland won by 26-20 in Cape Town last weekend.
De Jager sustained a calf injury last week in Cape Town and although he finished the match against the Irish and was able to participate in training on Monday, subsequent follow-up scans revealed he has suffered a calf strain. He was not considered for action this week, which means a start for Du Toit alongside his Stormers lock partner Eben Etzebeth.
Jantjies takes over the flyhalf duties after Lambie was ruled out with concussion and will make his first start for the Boks at his home ground. The vastly experienced Steyn, who has 60 Tests to his name, is included on the bench after joining the squad on Monday.
The inclusion of Du Toit in the starting line-up means a first appearance on the replacement bench for Mostert, who has so far this season caught the attention with numerous impressive performances at lock for the Lions in Super Rugby.
In the only other change to the match-day squad, Combrinck gets the nod as the utility backline player. The Lions flyer has been in fine form for the Highveld franchise so far this season in Super Rugby. He is a deadly finisher on the right wing and is equally at home in the fullback position.
Mostert and Combrinck will join Bongi Mbonambi (hooker) as the only uncapped players on the bench.
Coetzee described Saturday’s clash on the Highveld as a massive one, and said the squad have worked hard to rectify their mistakes.
“We spoke hard and were very frank in our assessment of last week’s performance,” said Coetzee.
“The Springboks are capable of executing the fundamentals of the game much better and that’s what we will set out do on Saturday. We know Ireland will come with a real desire to clinch the series, however, we must be ready to confront them and put ourselves into a position to succeed.
“I believe players who played in Cape Town deserve another opportunity and I am looking forward to see what they can do this week.”
The Bok coach explained his decision to make minimal changes to the side after the Boks suffered their first defeat against Ireland in Cape Town last Saturday: “We said we will not hit the panic button, and the decision to go with largely the same match-day squad is to give our players the opportunity to redeem themselves.
“Lood experienced some trouble on Monday and scans revealed he suffered a calf strain, so he won’t be in action this weekend. And Elton comes in for Pat, who is out with concussion and he will have his franchise halfback partner Faf de Klerk next to him.
“Morne Steyn still has a lot to offer at international level and his experience from the bench will no doubt prove valuable for us. Pieter-Steph gave a good account of himself last week when he came on for Lood and he now has a chance to make another good impact from the start,” explained Coetzee.
“Ruan has been playing very good rugby and so has Franco. I will look to the bench to maintain the intensity and again bring impact off the bench,” added Coetzee.
The Springboks will wrap up their preparations on Friday morning with the customary Captain’s Run at Ellis Park, the scene of many memorable Springbok performances in the past.
15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Julian Redelinghuys, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Warren Whiteley, 21 Rudy Paige 22 Morne Steyn, 23 Ruan Combrinck
15 Jared Payne, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Stuart Olding,
11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7
Rhys Ruddock, 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Quinn Roux, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg
Furlong, 2 Rory Best (captain), 1 Jack McGrath
Substitutes: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18
Finlay Bealham, 19 Donnacha Ryan, 20 Sean Reidy, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22
Ian Madigan, 23 Tiernan O’Halloran