Springbok team to face France: Libbok, Reinach, Vermeulen in starting XV
There is no place in the matchday-23 for Lukhanyo Am, while Jasper Wiese and Trevor Nyakane also miss out.
Manie Libbok will wear the No 10 shirt against France. Picture: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images
In the race for the No 10 jersey, Manie Libbok will start at flyhalf, with Handre Pollard playing off the bench.
Pollard, who missed out on initial selection to the squad because of a long-term injury, started against Tonga two weeks ago after replacing the injured Malcolm Marx in the Bok squad. Libbok played off the bench against Tonga, but started against Scotland and Ireland.
Reinach at scrumhalf
Also, Cobus Reinach has been picked at scrumhalf ahead of Faf de Klerk, who’ll add impact from the bench, which is a traditional five-three split, between forwards and backs.
The two other backs on the bench are the experienced Pollard and Willie le Roux.
There is also a change at No 8 where Duane Vermeulen comes in for Jasper Wiese, who started the big pool B games against Scotland and Ireland.
There is no place in the match-23 for centre Lukhanyo Am, who only joined the group two weeks ago as an injury replacement for Makazole Mapimpi.
Nienaber has opted to go with Jesse Kriel at 13, and he’ll link up with the experienced Damian de Allende in midfield.
Also, in a somewhat surprising move, versatile prop Vincent Koch has been picked ahead of Trevor Nyakane among the replacements. Deon Fourie (hooker) and Ox Nche are the other two front row forwards on the bench, along with RG Snyman and Kwagga Smith.
“Most of these players have Rugby World Cup experience and several of them were involved in the 2019 final (against England in Japan), so they know what it takes to perform in big moments,” said Nienaber.
“Twenty of these players were also in the matchday squad that played France in Marseille last season, which was a good dress rehearsal for what we can expect from France and their supporters.”
The Bok team is:
Damian Willemse, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Cheslin Kolbe, Manie Libbok, Cobus Reinach, Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (capt), Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff. Bench: Deon Fourie, Ox Nche, Vincent Koch, RG Snyman, Kwagga Smith, Faf de Klerk, Handre Pollard, Willie le Roux