Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber expressed his confidence with his lineup for Sunday’s world cup quarter-final after picking 15 players who featured in the 2019 final.
Seven players in the starting lineup will run out in the same positions as they did in the memorable 2019 final victory against England: Siya Kolisi, who will again lead the team; Pieter-Steph du Toit; Duane Vermeulen; Bongi Mbonambi; Eben Etzebeth; Frans Malherbe and Damian de Allende.
Every player in the pack has played more than 60 Tests. Steven Kitshoff, Mbonambi, and Malherbe will pack down in the front row, while Etzebeth and Franco Mostert will pair up at lock, with Kolisi, Du Toit and Vermeulen forming the loose trio.
“Most of these players have Rugby World Cup experience and several of them were involved in the 2019 final, so they know what it takes to perform in big moments.
“Twenty of these players also featured in the matchday squad that faced France in Marseille a year ago, which was a good dress rehearsal for what we can expect from France and their supporters.”
The surprise call for the Springboks comes in the half-backs, as Manie Libbok and Cobus Reinach start together for just the third time in international rugby.
Sunday will be the second time that the Springboks and France meet in a World Cup playoff, after the 1995 semi-finals.
The most recent clash between the two sides saw both teams lose one player each to a red card before France snatched a 30-26 victory.
“It’s going to be a massive clash for the players and supporters and we are looking forward to it,” said Nienaber.
“We’ve been working toward this world cup since 2018 and now we can book a place in the semi-final, so we have to go out there and give everything.
“It’s do or die, so we have to be accurate in executing our game plan and we have to capitalise on our opportunities because the margins will be small.
“We know the match is going to be as intense as last year, if not more intense, and in that clash we had a red card and we were in with a chance to win it with three or four minutes to go, so we have to give everything for the full 80 minutes and ensure that we are extremely disciplined.”
Read original story on www.sarugbymag.co.za