Springboks shuffle front to face Pumas in Salta
Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has gone for an all new front row for this weekend’s Rugby Championship clash against Argentina in Salta.
Props Tendai Mtawarira and Trevor Nyakane and hooker Bongi Mbonambi start in place of Steven Kitshoff‚ Frans Malherbe and Malcolm Marx respectively.
Mbonambi will earn his 29th cap but only his fourth start while Nyakane earns his fourth start in his 40th Test.
Otherwise the team is unchanged from the side that drew 16-16 with the All Blacks in Wellington nearly two weeks ago. No 8 Duane Vermeulen will again captain the side.
The “Beast”‚ who is set to make his 110th appearance in the Green and Gold jersey‚ will join Rugby World Cup winner Bryan Habana on 53 appearances in the Rugby Championship to equal the Springbok record for number of caps in the southern hemisphere competition. South Africa can clinch the Rugby Championship for the first time since 2009 if they can manage to beat the difficult Pumas with a bonus point.
Erasmus described Saturday’s vital clash as another very important opportunity to build momentum towards the Rugby World Cup in Japan. “The Pumas are a very difficult team to play at home and they will be fired up for this one in front of their passionate crowd in Salta‚” said Erasmus.
“This Test is a good opportunity for Bongi and Trevor to start next to ‘Beast’‚ who has a wealth of experience from playing more than 100 Tests for the Springboks. “We all know about the massively difficult forward threat of Argentina‚ however‚ they are a clever side with skill and pace out wide so we will have to be alert on defence right until the final whistle‚” said Erasmus.
South Africa and Argentina have played three times before in Salta. The first Test‚ in 2014‚ was won 33-31 by the Springboks‚ while the Pumas won the second encounter at the Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena in 2016‚ also by two points (26-24). The last encounter between the two countries in Salta was in 2017‚ when Eben Etzebeth’s team‚ playing in a special edition red jersey‚ triumphed by a winning margin of 18 points (41-23)‚ which was also the Boks’ biggest Rugby Championship victory in Argentina.
Overall‚ The Springboks have played 14 Test matches in Argentina against the Pumas‚ with 11 victories‚ two defeats and one draw‚ for a win percentage of 79%.
Springboks – 15 Willie le Roux‚ 14 Cheslin Kolbe‚ 13 Lukhanyo Am‚ 12 Damian de Allende‚ 11 Makazole Mapimpi‚ 10 Handré Pollard‚ 9 Faf de Klerk‚ 8 Duane Vermeulen‚ 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit‚ 6 Kwagga Smith‚ 5 Franco Mostert‚ 4 Eben Etzebeth‚ 3 Trevor Nyakane‚ 2 Bongi Mbonambi‚ 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Reserves: 16 Malcolm Marx‚ 17 Steven Kitshoff‚ 18 Frans Malherbe‚ 19 RG Snyman‚ 20 Francois Louw‚ 21 Herschel Jantjies‚ 22 Frans Steyn‚ 23 Jesse Kriel.