Duane Vermeulen will be there to check the momentum of the Wallabies, and Faf de Klerk is also back to cause mayhem in defence, but the selection that is most telling in terms of how the Springboks want to nullify Australia on Sunday is that of three loose forwards on the bench.
Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith and Jasper Wiese, all of whom are mobile enough to play openside flank, are all on the replacements bench named on Wednesday, and coach Jacques Nienaber confirmed this was to counter Australia’s expected efforts to speed up the Rugby Championship game at the Super Stadium on the Gold Coast.
“It’s because of how Australia play – with pace, tempo, massive continuity and an awesome skill-set as they look to stretch you from touchline-to-touchline. It looks weird to have three loose forwards on the bench, but then one of our locks is playing as a starting loose forward in Franco Mostert. So in effect we are starting with three locks,” explained Nienaber on Wednesday.
“We think the Wallabies are going to play a quick, high-tempo game. We have a plan around the substitutions, but things happen in the game and we must adapt.
“So although Duane will take some time to get used to the pace of international rugby again, the number of minutes he plays will depend on how the game unfolds. But he knows the shortcuts on the field.
While the attacking skills of the injured Cheslin Kolbe will obviously be missed, Sbu Nkosi is back on the right wing and the Sharks star is also no slouch in the try-scoring department. The 25-year-old Nkosi has dotted down eight times in 12 Tests, which compares very favourably to Kolbe’s nine tries in 18 Tests.
“All our players have their own ‘circus trick’, personality and energy that they bring to the team,” Nienaber said.
“So when you lose what one player brings, you gain something else from the other player coming in. There’s not that much to choose between our players and we are very fortunate to have that depth.
“Sbu has scored a few fantastic tries already, like Makazole Mapimpi, he’s also a bit of a try-machine, he knows where the tryline is.”