Damian Willemse will start at fullback and Elton Jantjies at flyhalf in a backline featuring several familiar faces, in wings Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe, centres Lukhanyo Am and Damian de Allende, and scrumhalf Faf de Klerk.
Cape Town – Bulls star Elrigh Louw and Stormers lock Salmaan Moerat are the newcomers in the Springbok match-day squad announced on Tuesday to play Wales in Pretoria on Saturday.
The pair are in line to make their débuts from the bench, with coach Jacques Nienaber opting for a settled squad as they target a solid start to the season.
Moerat, who was a member of the Springbok touring squad for last season’s UK tour, and Louw have been a stand-out performers in the United Rugby Championship this season and given their fine form for their franchises, Nienaber will be expecting them to make a big impact off in what is a strong bench for the match.
In a surprise in the starting XV, veteran Willie Le Roux drops to the bench and Damian Willemse will start at fullback as Le Roux is needed to proved flyhalf cover for Elton Jantjies — it has been decided not to rush Handré Pollard into action after he arrived late from French club rugby on Monday.
🇿🇦 Here we go! The first Springbok team for 2022 has a familiar look to it
2️⃣ uncapped players have been named on the bench
🗣️ “We have a fantastic crop of young players who have really been working hard”
🔗 More here: https://t.co/Dsvs4Au5Lc#StrongerTogether #StrongerForever pic.twitter.com/KaS357HngR
— Springboks (@Springboks) June 28, 2022
In the front row, Frans Malherbe and Ox Nché will pack down on either side of Bongi Mbonambi (hooker), Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager will join forces at lock, and Springbok captain Siya Kolisi will form a loose trio with Franco Mostert and Jasper Wiese. Am will serve as vice-captain for the match.
With a physical onslaught expected from Wales, Nienaber opted for a six-two split on the replacements bench. with while the back-up forwards comprising the impactful front row of Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff and Vincent Koch, Moerat, Louw and versatile loose forward Kwagga Smith.
“We have a talented group of players, and we believe the matchday squad we selected ticks the boxes in terms of what we would like to achieve in the opening Test against Wales,” said Nienaber.
“We have the added advantage of having several players that are quite versatile, so a guy like Damian Willemse for example can cover flyhalf and centre in addition to fullback, while Kwagga covers each of the loose forward positions and can even slot in at wing with his Blitzbok experience.
“Franco also gives us options at loose forward and lock, so we look forward to seeing what this team can produce on Saturday.”
Springboks – 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Elrigh Louw, 21 Kwagga Smith, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Willie le Roux.