Boks make wholesale changes for Wales Test

Staff WritersReuters
Coach Jacques Nienaber will have a busy end-of-year Northern Hemisphere program with the Springboks.
Camera IconCoach Jacques Nienaber will have a busy end-of-year Northern Hemisphere program with the Springboks. Credit: EPA

South Africa have named a new captain, plus two uncapped players in their starting line-up and a further four among the replacements as coach Jacques Nienaber announced wholesale changes for the second Test against Wales in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

Handre Pollard, who returns to the squad after not featuring in the narrow 32-29 first-Test win in Pretoria at the weekend, will take over the captaincy from Siya Kolisi as Nienaber keeps just one player from Saturday's starting XV.

Winger Kurt-Lee Arendse and loose forward Evan Roos, named the best player of the recent United Rugby Championship where he helped the Stormers to victory, will start, while Ntuthuko Mchunu (prop), Ruan Nortje (lock), Deon Fourie (loose forward) and Grant Williams (scrumhalf) could make their debuts off the bench.

Nienaber kept only four players from the match-day 23 for the first Test as he looks to give more international experience to squad members.

Eben Etzebeth, who will earn his 99th cap for South Africa on Saturday, is the only player to start again while hooker Malcolm Marx, prop Vincent Koch and utility back Damian Willemse are on the bench.

"We said from the outset that we needed to strike a balance between giving our talented young players an opportunity to show what they can do at international level, and winning," said Nienaber on Tuesday.

"If one looks at the balance between players who have played at this level and those who have performed consistently well for their franchises and clubs, I think we have a nice balance in this squad.

"A number of these players have been with us for a few seasons, while others travelled with us last season to Australia for the Rugby Championship and the year-end tour, and then there are a few new faces who showed during the season that they have the potential to rise to this level of the game, so we are excited to see what they can do on Saturday," the coach added.

Meanwhile, South Africa will play Tests against Ireland, France, Italy and England later this year on a month-long northern hemisphere tour.

The Springboks will play Ireland in Dublin on November 5, France in Marseille on November12, Italy on November 19 at a venue still to be finalised and England at Twickenham one week later, SA Rugby said on Tuesday.

They have also arranged a match for a South African Select XV against the Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate on November 17 and are attempting to organise two more games for the midweek selection.

South Africa have an expansive 42-man squad for this month's three-Test home series against Wales and will likely take a similar number of players into their Rugby Championship assignments against New Zealand, Australia and Argentina in August and September.

Together with the four end-of-year internationals, the Springboks will play a total of 13 Tests this year.

Team to play Wales in second Test:

Warrick Gelant, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Jesse Kriel, Andre Esterhuizen, Aphelele Fassi, Handre Pollard, Jaden Hendrikse, Evan Roos, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Marcell Coetzee, Marvin Orie, Eben Etzebeth, Trevor Nyakane, Joseph Dweba, Thomas du Toit. Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Vincent Koch, Ruan Nortje, Rynhardt Elstadt, Deon Fourie, Grant Williams, Damian Willemse.

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