The Springbok lineup for Saturday’s Castle Lager Rugby Championship match against the Wallabies at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane has one injury-forced change and a rotation selection in one of the front-row positions.
In a match that the Boks are anxious to win following their hiccup last week, Lood de Jager’s imposing presence in the lineout and powerful effect on the mauling game will be missed. In De Jager’s absence, Marvin Orie, who has six test caps and one start under his belt, will take over as lineout leader this week.
De Jager left the field with what seemed to be a shoulder injury late in the first game against Australia. Jacques Nienaber, the Bok coach, will give an online press conference later on Wednesday to explain the selections, but it appears that De Jager will miss out due to injury.
In the lone front-row change, Trevor Nyakane returns to the starting lineup at loosehead prop, replacing Steven Kitshoff, who moves to the bench. Nyakane, who had been hurt earlier in the competition when playing against Argentina in Gqeberha, missed out the Boks’ narrow loss to Australia on the Gold Coast last week. Ox Nche, who came in as a last-minute replacement last week, will not play this week.
KOLBE IS STILL MISSING
Another notable characteristic of the Brisbane starting lineup is Cheslin Kolbe’s continuing absence. The winger was hurt in training a few days before the first test, and it was anticipated he would be fit enough to play in this game and add his X-factor to the Bok attack. However, he is definitely not fit to play, therefore Bok supporters will have to wait until the following weekend’s games against the All Blacks to see the man who scored the game-winning try against the British and Irish Lions back in action.
It’s also worth noting that Nienaber has kept the six/two distribution between forwards and backs on the bench, indicating that the Gold Coast blueprint will not be altered. Instead, hope will be placed in the players’ ability to execute the strategy more effectively this time.
Kitshoff’s inclusion on the bench for Nche is the only change to the ‘Bomb Squad’ lineup from three days ago, with the three loose-forward pairing of Kwagga Smith, Marco van Staden, and Jasper Wiese remaining unchanged, despite some critics claiming that having so many loose-forwards on the bench is unnecessary.
Damian Willemse remains the only outside back on the reserve bench, as well as the primary place-kicking backup to flyhalf Handre Pollard. Willemse has been in fantastic form in general play, especially when he comes on in the midfield, and in last week’s match at flyhalf, he made a critical try-saving tackle.
However, there are concerns about his place-kicking skills, which will be crucial if Pollard is forced to leave the field due to injury, leaving Willemse as the only option for place-kicking outside of Willie le Roux.
When Willemse attempted to convert the third Bok try at the CBUS Stadium, he missed wide, causing former Bok lock Victor Matfield, who was in the SuperSport Studio as an analyst, to query why the Boks shouldn’t have a more reliable place-kicker as backup.
Willemse is a consummate professional who works hard on his game, and will no doubt have worked hard on his place-kicking in Australia, but there is a feeling in the Cape, where he plays provincial and franchise rugby, that when he isn’t entrusted with the place-kicking duties, he is a more confident all-round player. Tim Swiel is the placekicker for the Stormers and Western Province when he plays fullback.
Willie le Roux, Sbu Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk, Duane Vermeulen, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi (captain), Marvin Orie, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Trevor Nyakane; Springbok team: Willie le Roux
Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Jasper Wiese, Herschel Jantjies, and Damian Willemse have been named as replacements.