Chance for Notshe to shine for Springboks
Rampaging Stormers No 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe has a golden chance to lay down a marker in Test rugby when he makes his run-on debut for the Springboks against Australia in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Notshe gets his opportunity to shine because regular No 8 Warren Whiteley has been ruled out of the crunch Rugby Championship clash at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium with a groin strain.
The inclusion of Cheslin Kolbe on the right wing and Notshe in the pack are two of four changes to the Bok starting team that beat the All Blacks two weeks ago in Wellington, New Zealand.
The elusive Kolbe made his Springbok debut in Brisbane three weeks ago and was sent on as an early replacement against the All Blacks the following week, scoring a try early in the second half.
Jesse Kriel, who started at right wing in Wellington, moves back to outside centre.
Kriel is set to partner the strong-running Andre Esterhuizen in a revamped Springbok midfield as a result of the injuries to Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am.
In the pack there is a rotation at loosehead prop between Tendai Mtawarira and Steven Kitshoff, who will provide vital impact off the bench.
The rest of the starting lineup is unchanged, with Mtawarira set to make his 106th Test match appearance for the Springboks on Saturday.
“I know Sikhumbuzo well and when I was at Munster we had a lot of contact,” coach Rassie Erasmus said.
“I have known him for quite a few years and I know what his skillset is. He brings the same sort of things as Warren.
“I think that in leadership and experience Warren is ahead of him. But they are similar and both have a Sevens background.
“Sikhumbuzo has a good feel for the game and he links up nicely with captain Siya Kolisi and the rest of the guys in the team. I am very excited for him to get this chance.”
The Boks have also made some changes to their replacement bench.
Marco van Staden comes into the match-day squad as replacement for Francois Louw, and Embrose Papier is the new back-up scrumhalf in place of Ross Cronje.
Damian Willemse returns to the bench, and is likely to get to show off his skills in front of a capacity 46,000 crowd.
“Cheslin has been very impressive since he joined the squad a few weeks ago and now he gets a deserved opportunity to start in a big Test,” Erasmus said.
“The inclusion of Beast in the front row is a straight swap for Steven and Jesse returns to outside centre, a position where he has played most of his Test rugby, next to Andre.
“The players that we sent on took their chances against New Zeland and that’s what we want from this group. We are trying to build experience that we can take to the Rugby World Cup,” Erasmus said.