Injuries force Springbok coach to make changes for All Blacks clash
Injuries have forced Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber to make two changes to his match-day squad for the final Rugby Championship clash against New Zealand in Gold Coast on Saturday.
Ox Nché, who will earn a starting berth, and Jasper Wiese, who has been drafted on the bench, are replacements for Frans Malherbe and Marco van Staden, who was injured during last weekend’s 19-17 defeat to the All Blacks in Townsville.
Nché will start at loosehead prop with Trevor Nyakane switching to tight head after Malherbe was ruled out of selection due to a neck niggle, while Wiese takes over from Van Staden who suffered a shoulder injury.
Cheslin Kolbe, who missed the team’s first two matches against the Wallabies and last week’s outing against the All Blacks due to a leg injury, trained with the team on Monday and Tuesday, but he was unable to complete the last training session which dashed his hopes of making a comeback.
“We made a big step-up in terms of our performance last week and having reviewed the match, there is no doubt we delivered a performance worthy of a victory,” said Nienaber.
“With that in mind we opted for continuity in our team, so the only change in the run-on side is Ox taking over in the front row after Frans was ruled out.
“Trevor is a seasoned campaigner who is equally comfortable at loose head and tighthead prop, and Ox is a strong scrummager, so we are looking forward to seeing what they can do in the scrums.
“Cheslin would have started the match if he made a full recovery from the leg injury which has kept him out since the beginning of our Australian tour, but unfortunately his injury flared up during the latter stages of Tuesday’s field session, so we could not select him.
“On the bench, Jasper takes over from Marco, and we are fortunate in that they are similar in terms of their physicality and strong ball-carrying abilities.”
Nienaber stressed the importance of turning the corner after three successive defeats on tour and said the entire squad was aligned in terms of what their roles were to steer the team to a much-needed win.
“We are bitterly disappointed about the results in the last few weeks and everyone in our team realises the importance of finishing the Castle Lager Rugby Championship on a winning note,” said Nienaber.
“Every member of the squad will have a role to play in ensuring that the players on the field are at their best on match day, and we have no doubt that if we can build on the strong points of our game last week and improve further on the execution of our game plan, we can get the desired result.
“We know it is going to take a colossal 80-minute effort, but the drive to succeed and motivation to win this weekend is as big as it gets.
“Last week we stuck to our DNA and style of play, and with a little more luck we could have come away with the result, so we need to ensure that we are better at it this week.
“We are ready for this challenge mentally and physically and we know what we are capable of as a team, so we’ll go out there and give everything we have.”
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. Trevor Nyakane, 2. Bongi Mbonambi, 1. Ox Nché
Replacements: 16. Malcolm Marx, 17. Steven Kitshoff, 18. Vincent Koch, 19. Franco Mostert, 20. Jasper Wiese, 21. Herschel Jantjies, 22. Elton Jantjies, 23. Frans Steyn