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Nienaber rings the changes for Ireland

todaySeptember 20, 2023 54

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Springbok coach, Jacques Nienaber, made 13 personnel changes and a positional switch as well naming a seven-one split in favour of the forwards on the replacements’ bench for Saturday’s third Rugby World Cup pool encounter against Ireland.

Nine players, who sat out Sunday’s 76-0 win over Romania, return to the starting line-up – while four others move from the bench to the starting 15 for another pivotal encounter in the Pool B ‘Group of Death’.

The two players to retain their places in the run-on team are Bongi Mbonambi and Damian Willemse – who moves from flyhalf to fullback – while Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Jasper Wiese and Jesse Kriel move from the replacements’ bench.

Overall, the team reunites the starting combination that defeated Scotland 18-3 in the opening pool match except for hooker, where Mbonambi starts in place of the injured Malcolm Marx.

In the pack, it means the restoration of the locking combination of Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert, and the loose trio of captain Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Wiese.

Outside them, scrumhalf Faf de Klerk and flyhalf Manie Libbok unite at halfback, while Kurt-Lee Arendse and Cheslin Kolbe will patrol the wings outside of the centre pairing of Damian de Allende and Kriel.

Nienaber’s seven-one bench will see Deon Fourie continue as hooker, while Ox Nche and Trevor Nyakane will provide prop reinforcements with the Munster lock duo of Jean Kleyn – who played five Tests for Ireland which included wearing the light green jumper in the 2019 Rugby World Cup – and RG Snyman are paired on the bench with loose forwards Marco van Staden and the versatile Kwagga Smith, who can cover wing as well, thanks to his Springboks Sevens’ experience.

The single back on Nienaber’s bench is scrumhalf Cobus Reinach, who also provides cover at wing.

“Ireland are a quality team with a strong pack of forwards and talented backs, and they play with a lot of speed, so we know what we have to do to deliver a top-drawer performance for things to go our way,” said Nienaber.

“We faced them late last year and we’ve been keeping an eye on their performances this year, so everyone knows what we have to do this weekend. Article by Ntsako Mkhari

Written by: Lindiwe Mabena

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