Johannesburg - Springbok midfielder Francois Venter will lead out the SA ‘A’ team in their final match against the French Barbarians at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Friday evening (kick-off at 20:00).
Venter takes over from Juan de Jongh, who is on the bench alongside Handre Pollard, in a team that shows wholesale changes from the match-23 that won the first match last Friday in Durban by 36-28.
SA ‘A’ coach Johan Ackermann said the reason for all the changes is to accommodate all the players in the squad while at the same time assisting Springbok coach Allister Coetzee with a request for game-time for certain players.
Only two players who started at Moses Mabhida last week, Lwazi Mvovo and Ruan Botha, will run out again this weekend. Mvovo however moves from fullback to wing, where he will partner Blitzboks star Seabelo Senatla.
“All the players in the squad have worked incredibly hard over the last two weeks and it’s just fair to give all of them a run against the French Barbarians,” said Ackermann.
“At the same time, the Springbok cause is very important with the rest of the season in mind - I spoke to Allister and I’m glad we can assist him in giving game-time to certain players who are in his plans.”
Ackermann said the decision to award Venter the captaincy was an easy one: “Francois has led the Cheetahs very well in recent seasons and he brings international experience to the team.
“He was also our vice-captain in 2016 so he’s got a good idea of what we would like to achieve on the field in this match.
“Francois is one of eight players in the team who has played Test rugby for South Africa. This experience could again be vital, as we saw last week in Durban - when we were with our backs against the wall, these players put their hands up and led from the front.
“There are also a number of players in this squad who I’m sure will still play for the Springboks and I’ve really enjoyed working with them. It’s been great exposure against international opposition and they will all benefit from it.”
Ackermann added that players who are not in the match-23 for this encounter will remain with the squad, but will be released for SuperSport Rugby Challenge duty should their provinces request that.
South Africa 'A':
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Lwazi Mvovo, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Francois Venter (captain), 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 Ox Nche
Substitutes: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Uzair Cassiem, 20 Ruan Ackermann, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Handre Pollard, 23 Juan de Jongh
15 Julien Dumora, 14 Louis Dupichot, 13 Lucas Dupont, 12 Arnaud Mignardi, 11 Fabrice Estebanez, 10 Frédéric Michalak, 9 Yann Lesgourgues, 8 Marco Tauleigne, 7 Antoine Erbani, 6 Romain Sazy, 5 Alexandre Flanquart, 4 Félix Lambey, 3 Clément Ric, 2 Anthony Etrillard, 1 Khatchik Vartanov
Substitutes: 16 Rémi Bonfils, 17 Malik Hamadache, 18 Tommy Raynaud, 19 Arnaud Mela, 20 Anthony Jelonch, 21 Jean-Baptiste Pejoine, 22 Anthony Belleau, 23 Jean-Baptiste Dubie