Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Boks looking to kick on with exciting blend of youth and experience

Flank Pieter-Steph du Toit steps in as captain for the second time, while hooker Malcolm Marx makes his return from injury.

The Springboks’ first match 23 of the season mixes an exciting blend of up-and-coming talent with experienced stars, heading into their opening match of their international campaign against Wales at Twickenham on Saturday afternoon.

Bok coach Rassie Erasmus named four uncapped players in the playing squad, with Lions duo Edwill van der Merwe and Jordan Hendrikse set to start at wing and flyhalf respectively, while Stormers duo Ben Jason-Dixon and Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu will play off the bench.

Flank Pieter-Steph du Toit steps in as captain for the second time, the first being in the Boks’ game against Wales in Washington in 2018, which they lost 22-20, while hooker Malcolm Marx makes his return to the playing field for the first time since their World Cup match against Scotland.

With 10 players in the matchday squad having competed in last year’s World Cup final, and 16 players being members of the World Cup squad, it is the perfect blend to keep the Boks’ momentum going while also introducing new players into the system.

Kicking on

“The first thing is that we are trying to kick on (from the World Cup win). We didn’t have a chance to do that in 2020 (after the 2019 World Cup win because of Covid) and put some more layers onto our game and try get things that we want to get right,” explained Erasmus.

“We then had the 2021 British and Irish Lions series and only in 2022 could we test out some things. At some stages we had to throw in 18 or 19 new players, like against Wales (in Bloemfontein in 2022), and in some away Argentinean Test matches.

“That wasn’t ideal because we lost quite a few of those matches. So what we are trying to do is stay at the same level that we were last year (when they won the World Cup) and make sure that our core way of playing remains the same.

“All of us (the coaching staff) want to add to what we did last year and if we just threw a bunch of young guys in, which we would have loved to do, we wouldn’t have been able to see if we had lost our foundation.”

The other Bok World Cup winning stalwarts in the starting team include Eben Etzebeth, Ox Nche, Vincent Kock (who plays his 50th game for the Boks), Kwagga Smith, Franco Mostert, Faf de Klerk, Andre Esterhuizen and Jesse Kriel, making for a very experienced spine.

Read more on these topics

Rassie Erasmus Springboks (Bokke/Boks)

For more news your way

Download our app and read this and other great stories on the move. Available for Android and iOS.