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Reshuffle on the cards for Rassie’s Boks

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The Boks will be without fullback Willie le Roux (Wasps) and flank Francois Louw (Bath), who have both returned to their English clubs

South Africa players celebrate winning the test match against the New Zealand All Blacks. Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz

The Springboks’ starting line-up for their Rugby Championship game against the Wallabies in Port Elizabeth could be quite different to the one that defeated the All Blacks in Wellington last week.

Bok coach Rassie Erasmus yesterday named a 17-man preliminary squad for their final two matches against Australia next Saturday and New Zealand a week later. The squad will be finalised after this weekend’s round of Currie Cup action after some final injury assessments have been done by the medical team. The preliminary group will assemble in PE today, where they will kick off their preparations for the final two Championship matches; the last one being against the All Blacks at a sold-out Loftus on October 6.

The Boks will be without fullback Willie le Roux (Wasps) and flank Francois Louw (Bath), who have both returned to their English clubs.

Centres Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am will also miss the last two games with shoulder injuries sustained in last week’s massive 36-34 victory at the Wellington Regional Stadium, while Makazole Mapimpi is still unavailable due to a knee injury.

Erasmus has hinted a number of times that he’d like to blood the exciting Damian Willemse at No 15, and the vacancy at fullback would be this chance to have a proper look at him, or the equally electric Cheslin Kolbe, who played off the bench in Australasia.

But Willemse’s start at No 15 – which sees Dillyn Leyds, who has been superb from the last line of defence, drop to the bench – in John Dobson’s Western Province team for their home game against Griquas could indicate that the SA director of rugby wants a closer look at the 20-year-old at fullback.

Erasmus said that the two last Championship games will give them an opportunity to build depth, something that he has underlined as important ahead of next year’s World Cup in Japan.

“We are still keeping an eye on a number of players who we would like to involve in the coming weeks, but we would first like to see them get through their provincial matches this weekend,” said Erasmus.

Preliminary squad:

Forwards: Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Steven Kitshoff, Siya Kolisi (c), Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Franco Mostert, Tendai Mtawarira, RG Snyman, Warren Whiteley.

Backs: Faf de Klerk, Aphiwe Dyantyi, André Esterhuizen, Elton Jantjies, Cheslin Kolbe, Jesse Kriel, Handré Pollard.