Bok coach Jacques Nienaber has made several big changes to the team for Saturday's next Test. Bok. Photo: Archives

Bok coach Jacques Nienaber has made several big changes to the team for Saturday’s next Test. Photo: Archives

JUST IN: Why Springboks opted for shock team changes

Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber has commented on the wholesale team changes for the second Test against Wales.

Bok coach Jacques Nienaber has made several big changes to the team for Saturday's next Test. Bok. Photo: Archives

Bok coach Jacques Nienaber has made several big changes to the team for Saturday’s next Test. Photo: Archives

The Springboks were always expected to bring at least a couple key players back into the starting line-up for this Saturday’s second Test against Wales in Bloemfontein, with superstars Pieter-Steph du Toit and Handre Pollard returning to the selection mix.


Yet, very few could have predicted the widespread changes to the Springboks team that was ultimately unveiled on Tuesday.

The word on the ground, though, is that this has nothing to do with what many might perceive to be a knee-jerk reaction to last weekend’s subpar performance after the Boks relied on a late penalty to claim an unconvincing win.

It’s understood that the Springboks management team have had a very clearcut plan that was set out before the start of the season, and the second Test against Wales was always earmarked as the game where some players would be rested, and others would bank much-needed game-time.

If the Boks had lost the first Test, some plans may have been adjusted, but Nienaber has now explained why the surprise team changes were made, which includes six players set for an international debut.

“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.

“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.

“Wales showed last week that they are fighters and can go for the full 80 minutes and we are expecting nothing different from them this week. This will certainly be a good test for the younger players in the group to measure themselves against some of the best players in Wales, some of whom played for the British & Irish Lions, so everyone knows they will be in for a proper Test on Saturday.”

Two players who have been in hot form recently, Kurt-Lee Arendse (outside back) and Evan Roos (No 8), have been handed starts, while Ntuthuko Mchunu (prop), Ruan Nortje (lock), Deon Fourie (utility forward) and Grant Williams (scrumhalf) could make their debuts off the bench.

Three players in the match-23 retained their places in the squad from last week’s 32-29 victory in the opening Test against Wales, namely experienced lock Eben Etzebeth, who will earns his 99th cap for South Africa on Saturday, while prop Vincent Koch and utility back Damian Willemse have been included on the bench.

Furthermore, experienced flyhalf Handre Pollard, who returns to the squad after not featuring in the first Test, will take over the captaincy from Siya Kolisi this week.

“Handre is one of our most experienced players and has been part of our core leadership group for a number of years now, I’m sure he will slot into the role with ease.”

Nienaber again opted for a split of six forwards and two backs on the bench, with Willemse’s versatility seeing him able to cover flyhalf, centre and fullback, while Williams, who has been waiting in the wings at scrumhalf, provides cover for his provincial team-mate Jaden Hendrikse.

“We are delighted to see these players get an opportunity at this level and I believe if they play to their potential, they will bolster our depth going forward,” said Nienaber.

“They are all very excited at the prospect of wearing the green and gold, but they also know what Wales will bring on the day and that every opportunity will be important.”


Springboks team to face Wales in Bloemfontein:

15 – Warrick Gelant (Racing 92) 9 caps, 15 pts (3t)
14 – Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls) – uncapped
13 – Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles) – 51 caps, 60 pts (12t)
12 – Andre Esterhuizen (Harlequins) 8 caps, 0 pts
11 – Aphelele Fassi (Cell C Sharks) 2 caps, 10 pts (2t)
10 – Handre Pollard (captain – Leicester) 60 caps, 601 pts (6t, 83c, 131p, 4d)
9 – Jaden Hendrikse (Cell C Sharks) 2 caps, 5 pts (1t)
8 – Evan Roos (DHL Stormers) – uncapped
7 – Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz) 58 caps, 25 pts (5t)
6 – Marcell Coetzee (Vodacom Bulls) 30 caps, 30 pts (6t)
5 – Marvin Orie (DHL Stormers) – 7 caps, 0 pts
4 – Eben Etzebeth (Cell C Sharks) 98 caps, 15 pts (3t)
3 – Trevor Nyakane (Racing 92) 54 caps, 5pts (1t)
2 – Joseph Dweba (DHL Stormers) 1 cap, 0 pts
1 – Thomas du Toit (Cell C Sharks) 13 caps, 0 pts
16 – Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears) 47 caps, 55 pts (11t)
17 – Ntuthuko Mchunu (Cell C Sharks) – uncapped
18 – Vincent Koch (Wasps) 32 caps, 0 pts
19 – Ruan Nortje (Vodacom Bulls) – uncapped
20 – Rynhardt Elstadt (Toulouse) – 3 caps, 0 pts
21 – Deon Fourie (DHL Stormers – uncapped)
22 – Grant Williams (Cell C Sharks) – uncapped
23 – Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) 17 caps, 12 pts (1T, 2C, 1P)

Springbok record against Wales:
Played 38, Won 31, Lost 6, Drawn 1, Points for 977, Points against 615, Tries scored 115, Tries conceded 51, Highest score 96, Biggest win 83 Points, Win % 81.

• The total Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is 393.
• There are 132 caps in the backline with 261 caps amongst the forwards. On the bench there are a further 99 caps.
• The average caps per player in the backline are 14, the forwards 32, while the players on the bench average 12. Springboks  Wales  Castle Lager Incoming Series  Bloemfontein  Handre Pollard  Kurt-Lee Arendse  Evan Roos  Ruan Nortje  Ntuthuko Mchunu  Grant Williams  Deon Fourie  Jacques NienaberLatest News

Springbok No 8 Jasper Wiese in action against Wales at Loftus Versfeld on 2 July, 2022 in Pretoria. Photo: Anton Geyser/Gallo Images