Springbok coach, Jacques Nienaber, made eight changes and one positional switch to his starting 15 for their final warm-up game, against New Zealand at Twickenham on Friday, as he continues to fine tune preparations for the opening Rugby World Cup clash against Scotland in just under three weeks.
Captain Siyamthanda Kolisi, who returned from last week to lead the World Champions to a 52-16 victory, will lead the team once more in a familiar lose trio which features Pieter-Steph du Toit and Duane Vermulen.
Flyhalf Manie Libbok, who has come under fire for his lack of accuracy towards the poles, and Canan Moodie also start again – although Moodie switches from wing to outside centre (13) to form a new midfield pairing with Andre Esterhuizen.
Faf de Klerk will start at scrumhalf in a new halfback combination (with Libbok), while there are new combinations elsewhere as Nienaber continued to carefully manage game time among the squad.
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There is a new lock pairing of Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert who come in for the Munster duo of Jean Kleyn and RG Snyman. Makazole Mapimpi and Kurt-Lee Arendse are named on the left and right wings respectively, with Damian Willemse starting at fullback.
Nienaber again opted for a split of six forwards and two backs on the bench, where locks Kleyn and Snyman, Trevor Nyakane will provide an impact alongside Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche, and Marco van Staden.
Cobus Reinach and Willie le Roux, meanwhile, will provide backline cover.
“The All Blacks will provide a different challenge to Wales, and we believe this group of players is the right mix for this match,” said Nienaber.
“New Zealand play a high-tempo game, and they turn on the intensity from the starting whistle as they showed in Auckland, so it’s vital that we start well this week. We took the lessons from that match, and we’ve built good momentum since, so this will be a fantastic test before we enter our Rugby World Cup campaign,” adds the Boks coach.
“Our objective since the beginning of the season was to strike a balance between performance and managing player load with only six Test matches to get ready for the World Cup, and we are pleased with the way we have developed in that regard.
“In the last five matches we’ve given everyone, with the exception of the injured players, valuable game time, which is vital going into the World Cup, and we are satisfied with the way we have been building as a team.”
Written by: Ntsako Mukhari