Springbok coach, Jacques Nienaber, and Director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus, continue to rewrite the rugby coaching textbook. The Boks will go into their second 2023 Rugby World Cup Pool B match against Romania in Bordeaux on Sunday with four scrumhalves.
Cobus Reinach will start at scrumhalf, with Jaden Hendrikse providing cover off the replacements’ bench, while Grant Williams will look to once again show his versatility by starting on the right wing. Faf de Klerk will provide flyhalf cover from the bench in a split of five forwards and three backs.
Hooker Bongi Mbonambi will captain the side once again in the absence of Siya Kolisi, who will not feature in Sunday’s encounter. Damian Willemse is the only surviving player from the starting 15, which played in last Sunday’s 18-3 victory against Scotland. Willemse will switch from fullback to flyhalf.
The 14 other personnel changes in the starting team, see Canan Moodie start at outside centre and Jean Kleyn return after not being available for selection because of injury in game one to partner up alongside Marvin Orie in the lock positions. Moodie resumes his Twickenham midfield-partnership with the hard-running Andre Esterhuizen.
2019 World Cup winner, Willie le Roux, jumps from the bench to the starting lineup at fullback, while Makazole Mapimpi will accompany Williams on the wing.
Nienaber also named a forward pack that features Ox Nche, Vincent Koch, and Mbonambi, and Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith and Duane Vermeulen forming a new loose trio.
“People were surprised when we picked four scrumhalves in the squad, but we knew they offered us the skills and versatility to provide backline options to manage the challenges that tournament rugby gives you,” said Nienaber.
“They are all excellent scrumhalves, but Grant and Cobus can play wing and Faf has experience at No 10 – as do Cheslin and Willie. We have the same versatility among our forwards.
“Grant played school rugby on the wing, and he has come on at wing before for us, so we are excited to give him this opportunity to start there and for him to gain international experience in the position.
“Faf is also one of our back up flyhalves in the squad, and the same applies to him, as it will be valuable for him and the team to get some game time in the position.
“We have been rotating and testing players in different positions since last season to put us in the fortunate position to have a group of 33 players in France that are closely matched in terms of their quality of play and skills, and who have been pushing one another for places in the last few months. It has allowed us to select a top-quality team for this match.”
Springbok team to face Romania in Bordeaux:
15 – Willie le Roux
14 – Grant Williams
13 – Canan Moodie
12 – Andre Esterhuizen
11 – Makazole Mapimpi
10 – Damian Willemse
9 – Cobus Reinach
8 – Duane Vermeulen
7 – Kwagga Smith
6 – Marco van Staden
5 – Marvin Orie
4 – Jean Kleyn
3 – Vincent Koch
2 – Bongi Mbonambi
1 – Ox Nche
16 – Deon Fourie
17 – Steven Kitshoff
18 – Trevor Nyakane
19 – RG Snyman
20 – Jasper Wiese
21 – Jaden Hendrikse
22 – Faf de Klerk
23 – Jesse Kriel
Written by: Ntsako Mukhari