Etzebeth to captain Boks against All Blacks, Willemse at 10
The side also includes the World Cup-winning centre pairing of Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am.
Eben Etzebeth will lead the Springboks on Saturday. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile/Gallo Images
Etzebeth suffered a shoulder injury earlier this year which ended his United Rugby Championship campaign with the Sharks, but he is again fit and is joined in the second row by Lood de Jager, in what is a Bok team full of 2019 Rugby World Cup final-winning stars.
Ten of the 14 players who flew to New Zealand last week to acclimatise are in the matchday squad.
Willie le Roux, Lukhanyo Am, Damian Willemse and the front row of Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe (both props), and Bongi Mbonambi (hooker) will all start after participating in the season-opener against the Wallabies last weekend, which the Springboks won 43-12.
Bok coach Jacques Nienaber has again opted for a six-two split on the replacements bench in favour of the forwards, which mainly comprises of players who featured against Australia, including No 8 Duane Vermeulen, flank Pieter-Steph du Toit, lock RG Snyman and two backs in flyhalf Manie Libbok and Grant Williams, who can provide cover at scrumhalf and wing.
Of Etzebeth’s return, Nienaber said: “Eben has been working very hard in the last few months to make a full recovery from his shoulder injury and it’s great to see him return to the field in this important fixture.
“He’s a vastly experienced player with 110 Test caps, he’s captained the Springboks before and he has been with the group of players in New Zealand for over a week, so he is the ideal person to lead the team this weekend.”
Team: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Damian Willemse, Faf de Klerk, Jasper Wiese, Franco Mostert, Kwagga Smith, Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth (capt), Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff. Bench: Malcolm Marx, Thomas du Toit, Vincent Koch, RG Snyman, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Duane Vermeulen, Grant Williams, Manie Libbok