Boks coach Jacques Nienaber goes for experience to tackle the All Blacks

Mahlatse Mphahlele Sports reporter
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber and Lood de Jager plotting for New Zealand.
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber and Lood de Jager plotting for New Zealand.
Image: Tertius Pickard/Gallo Images

Lood de Jager, Elton Jantjies and Frans Steyn have been recalled to the Springbok match day squad by coach Jacques Nienaber for the crunch Rugby Championship clash against New Zealand in Townsville on Saturday.

Nienaber has made five changes to the squad with Trevor Nyakane named at loosehead prop for his 50th Test cap and De Jager and Kwagga Smith returning to the starting line up and three more on the bench.

In this match, where they are looking to rebound from successive defeats against Australia, Nienaber went with a five-three split on the bench this week, unlike the 6-2 split against the Wallabies.

De Jager has completed his return-to-play protocol after suffering a concussion against the Wallabies two weekends ago, and he reunites with Eben Etzebeth in the second row which sees Marvin Orie dropping 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 Frans Steyn are the new players amongst the replacements, with Steyn set to provide cover at centre and fullback, and 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 cover 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 and Malcolm Marx.

Cheslin Kolbe is 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,” said Nienaber.

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

“Experience will be vital to ensure 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 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.”

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