Rugby Championship

Kwagga, Lood start as Boks shake up bench for 100th All Blacks Test

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Kwagga Smith during a Springbok training session. (Photo by Tertius Pickard/Gallo Images)
Kwagga Smith during a Springbok training session. (Photo by Tertius Pickard/Gallo Images)

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has recalled the experienced trio of Lood de Jager, Elton Jantjies and Frans Steyn for Saturday's Rugby Championship Test against New Zealand in Townsville, as they look to rebound from successive defeats against Australia.

Nienaber has made five changes to the match-day squad for the Test against the All Blacks, with Trevor Nyakane remaining at loosehead prop for his 50th Test cap. Two of the changes are in the starting line-up, and three more on the bench, which feature a five-three split this week.

Lock De Jager has completed his return-to-play protocol after suffering a concussion against the Wallabies two weekends ago, and reunites with Eben Etzebeth in the second row, which sees Marvin Orie drop out of the squad.

The other change in the starting line-up is at blindside flank where Kwagga Smith is promoted from the bench in a direct switch with Franco Mostert, who will serve as impact player this week in a rotational switch to manage his workload.

Elton Jantjies and Steyn are the new players amongst the replacements, with Steyn set to provide cover at centre and fullback, and Elton Jantjies at flyhalf, while Herschel Jantjies will cover scrumhalf.

With Jasper Wiese's fate yet to be decided following a delay in his disciplinary hearing for foul play at a ruck, which was held earlier on Tuesday, Marco van Staden and Mostert - who covers lock and loose forward - are set to spark some energy later in the game, much like the replacement front row of Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Kock (both props) and Malcolm Marx (hooker).

Winger Cheslin Kolbe is still recovering from the knock he took to the leg before the first Test against Australia, but Nienaber said the speedster was making good progress and could be available for selection next weekend.

"It's always a massive task to face the All Blacks," Nienaber said.

"They have skilful players who thrive on turnover ball and who know how to capitalise on point-scoring opportunities, so we know that we need to deliver a quality 80-minute performance against them to turn the corner after two disappointing defeats.

"Experience will be vital to ensure that we remain focused and calm throughout the match, and players such as Elton and Frans will bring that when they take the field. They have both played and won against the All Blacks, but they will also bring a set of different skills.

"Lood also boasts 51 Test caps, which will be valuable in this match, while has Kwagga has faced them before as well, which gives us a chance to give Franco a well-deserved opportunity to be managed carefully this week after a physically taxing load since the season started.

"Both Elton and Frans have been training very well, they’ve also been in our structures for years and have performed well for the team in high-pressure matches, so we are keen to see what dynamic they will bring to the game."

Nienaber expected an epic encounter against the All Blacks, who have won all four of their Castle Lager Rugby Championship matches up to now with bonus points.

"We are fully aware of the challenge that awaits us, and we know what we have to do to stay on the right side of the scoreboard this weekend - strong defence, accurate execution and capitalising on our point-scoring chances will be key," said Nienaber.

"We also have to ensure we make minimal mistakes because the All Blacks have proved time and again how they punish teams from small errors, so we need to deliver an effective performance all around."

Englishman Luke Pearce is the referee for this Test, with South Africa's Jaco Peyer and Australia's Angus Gardner serving as assistant referees and Australia's Damon Murphy on television match official (TMO) duty.

Saturday's Test, which will be the 100th between the old rivals, kicks off at 09:05 (SA time).

Teams:

South Africa

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Trevor Nyakane

Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Frans Steyn

New Zealand

TBA

- SA Rugby

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