South Africa’s Rugby team makes changes before New Zealand face off

(SATSports) – Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber made two changes to South Africa’s starting XV to face New Zealand in Townsville on Saturday in what will be the 100th meeting between the two great rivals.

Lock Lood de Jager will line up alongside Eben Etzebeth in second row having successfully completed his return-to-play protocol after suffering a concussion against Australia on September 12. De Jager takes the place of Marvin Orie, who drops out of the match day squad.

The second change sees Kwagga Smith replace Franco Mostert at blindside flank. Smith’s promotion from the bench is seen as a rotational switch to manage Mostert’s workload.

“Experience will be vital to ensure that we remain focused and calm throughout the match, and players such as Elton and Frans will bring that when they take the field. They have both played and won against the All Blacks, but they will also bring a set of different skills,” Nienaber said.

“Lood also boasts 51 Test caps, which will be valuable in this match, while has Kwagga has faced them before as well, which gives us a chance to give Franco a well-deserved opportunity to be managed carefully this week after a physically taxing load since the season started.”

The Springboks bench features a five-three split between the forwards and backs with Elton Jantjies and Frans Steyn among the new replacements. Steyn, a two-time World Cup winner, will provide cover at centre and full-back, and Jantjies at fly-half, while Herschel Jantjies will cover scrum-half.

Number eight Jasper Wiese, who was cited for alleged foul play during South Africa’s 30-17 loss to Australia on Saturday, is awaiting a decision on his fate following a delayed disciplinary hearing.

Toulon winger Cheslin Kolbe remains an absentee for the Boks as he recovers from a knock to the leg suffered before the first game against Australia. Nienaber, however, said Kolbe’s recovery was continuing well and he could be up for selection for the final game against the All Blacks on October 2.

South Africa will be looking to bounce back from shock back-to-back defeats against Australia which saw them relinquish top spot in the World Rugby rankings to New Zealand, who returned to the summit for the first time since October 2019.

Nienaber said South Africa will have to ensure they make “minimal mistakes” and “deliver an effective performance all around” against New Zealand who have won all four of their Rugby Championship matches up to now with bonus points.

“We are fully aware of the challenge that awaits us, and we know what we have to do to stay on the right side of the scoreboard this weekend – strong defence, accurate execution and capitalising on our point-scoring chances will be key,” he said.

Of the 99 Tests between the two three-time world champions, South Africa has won 36, lost 59, and drawn four. The All Blacks won the most recent encounter between them 23-13 during the pool stage of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

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