Springboks make nine changes as Duane Vermeulen returns as captain

Kurt Lee Arendse of South Africa scores try , embraced by Duane Vermeulen during the 2023 Rugby Championship between South Africa and Australia at Loftus Stadium, Pretoria on 08 July 2023 Credit: Alamy

Kurt Lee Arendse of South Africa scores try , embraced by Duane Vermeulen during the 2023 Rugby Championship between South Africa and Australia at Loftus Stadium, Pretoria on 08 July 2023 Credit: Alamy

Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber has made nine changes to his starting line-up to face Argentina in the teams’ final Rugby Championship match.

Duane Vermeulen returns to the starting XV to captain the side at Ellis Park in the Springboks’ last home game before the Rugby World Cup.

Meanwhile, scrum-half Grant Williams earns his first start for the Boks after three appearances from the bench.

Nine changes to the Springboks starting line-up

Willie le Roux starts at full-back for the third time this year and is the only backline player to feature in every Test match so far.

He is joined in the back three by Cheslin Kolbe, who scored one of the Springboks’ tries in the 35-20 defeat to the All Blacks, and Kurt-Lee Arendse, who scored a hat-trick in the 43-12 victory over Australia in Round One.

Damian de Allende retains the starting number 12 jersey and is joined by Jesse Kriel, who will make his first appearance of the season at number 13, replacing Lukhanyo Am, who drops to the bench.

Manie Libbok earns his second start at fly-half as he switches roles with Damian Willemse, who features on the bench and partners scrum-half Williams.

Up front, Nienaber has rotated the back-row trio with Vermeulen and flankers Pieter-Steph du Toit and Marco van Staden, who started the opening match of the competition against the Wallabies, returning to the run-on team.

Eben Etzebeth starts in the second-row while Marvin Orie takes the place of Lood de Jager, to partner the Springbok centurion.

Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe start at loosehead and tighthead prop respectively once again as Malcolm Marx switches roles with Bongi Mbonambi to start at hooker.

Nienaber opted for a five-three split on the bench in favour of the forwards.

Prop Trevor Nyakane is set to earn his first cap of 2023, providing front-row cover with Mbonambi and Vincent Koch (prop).

Lock RG Snyman and loose forward Kwagga Smith are the other forward replacements, with Faf de Klerk, Am and Willemse covering the backs.

Building to the Rugby World Cup

“This is a quality team that will offer us the skills we need against Argentina,” said Nienaber.

“It also contains a good balance of experience and youth, which is vital as we build toward the Rugby World Cup.

“There are only four more matches before we kick off our Rugby World Cup campaign so it’s a fine balancing act to give all the players a chance to stake a claim for places while selecting teams that we believe are best equipped for the opposition we’ll face, and we’re pleased with the way we’ve managed that process up to now.

“Obviously, the result in New Zealand was bitterly disappointing, but we came into the season with a plan that will hopefully allow us to select the best possible squad for the World Cup and peak at the right time.”

Springboks team to face Argentina

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Grant Williams, 8 Duane Vermeulen (c), 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Eben Etzebeth (c), 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff

Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Kwagga Smith, 20 RG Snyman, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Lukhanyo Am, 23 Damian Willemse

Date: Saturday, July 29

Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg

Kick-off: 17:05 local (16:05 BST, 12:05 ARG)

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)

Assistant Referees: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia), Chris Busby (Ireland)

TMO: Joy Neville (Ireland)

READ MORE: Jean Kleyn reveals how he got his black eye ahead of his Springboks debut

The article Springboks make nine changes as Duane Vermeulen returns as captain appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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