Springbok hooker, Bongi Mbonambi, will play in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand in Paris.
Mbonambi was named in Jacques Nienaber’s matchday 23 earlier today after World Rugby closed the matter of him being accused of using discrimanatory language by England flanker Tom Curry in last week’s semi-final.
— Springboks (@Springboks) October 26, 2023
Nienaber has also made two changes to his starting 15 with Handre Pollard and Faf de Klerk starting in place of Mannie Libbok and Cobus Reinach to make up the same half-back pairing that started the 2019 final against England in Japan.
The team to face the All Blacks in Saturday night’s showdown features a 7-1 bench split, which sees the likes of Trevor Nyakane, Jean Kleyn, and Jasper Wiese make the matchday 23.
The only enforced change among the replacements is at prop where Nyakane replaces Vincent Koch, who is nursing a knee injury. He joins Ox Nche and Deon Fourie as front-row cover, while the Munster duo of RG Snyman and Kleyn will serve as the back-up locks, and Kwagga Smith and Wiese the back-up loose forwards.
The backline player on the bench is fullback Willie le Roux.
“This is an experienced team with several players who played in the last Rugby World Cup final and who know exactly what to expect at Stade de France on Saturday and what it will take to retain the title,” said Nienaber.
“The players who will be playing in their first World Cup final have also proven their worth as warriors throughout this campaign and they are all ready for this massive occasion.
“We have said many times that we pick teams for varying gameplans depending on the opponent and that we use all 23 players to try and achieve those goals.
“We’ve gone from a five-three bench split to a seven-one split to give us the best chance of being successful. We have plans in place to mitigate for injuries in the backline, but we’re excited about our plan and we embrace the risk.”
“The messages of support and videos from home have inspired us immensely and we know the magnitude of this occasion, not just for the players and management – who have made huge sacrifices to get us here – but for what this day means for our country,” said Nienaber.
“We are proud of the fact that we have given some hope and excitement to so many people in the last few months, and we’ll give everything to bring further joy to our wonderful nation on Saturday.”
The Bok coach expects a powerful onslaught from the All Blacks and says they pose threats in every aspect of the game.
“Matches between the Springboks and All Blacks are always special and hard-fought, and with this being a World Cup final, the rivalry is expected to be more intense. They have an experienced squad with a physical pack and a backline that can create magic from nothing, so we’ll have to be at our best on attack and defence to get the result.”
Written by: Ntsako Mukhari