Willemse in, Moodie injured as Boks name side to face Scotland in World Cup opener
The rest of the Bok side is as expected with captain Siya Kolisi leading the charge.
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber (right) has backed utility back Damian Willemse as the starting fullback for their opening World Cup match against Scotland ahead of Wille le Roux. Picture: Juan Jose Gasparini/Gallo Images
The Springboks named a strong team to face Scotland in their World Cup opener in Marseille on Sunday evening, with utility back Damian Willemse the surprise inclusion in the starting XV, while the in-form Canan Moodie completely misses out due to injury.
Willemse has been named at fullback ahead of Willie le Roux, who will provide one of two backline replacements off the bench, with them reverting to their more accustomed 6-2 split after stunning the world of rugby with a 7-1 bench split in their record win over the All Blacks two weeks ago.
Moodie was the unlucky omission from the match 23 despite his incredible form over the past few months with a hamstring niggle ruling him out of contention.
Cheslin Kolbe and Kurt-Lee Arendse have been backed as the preferred wings for the match, while Jesse Kriel has returned to the number 13 jersey, resuming his budding partnership with Damian de Allende.
Another slight surprise is Jasper Wiese being named as the starting eighthman ahead of the hugely in-form Duane Vermeulen, with the older head having overshadowed his younger apprentice over the international season so far.
Scrumhalf Faf de Klerk will start in his 50th appearance for the Boks and he will be backed up by another bolter in Grant Williams on the bench.
The rest of the Bok side is as expected with captain Siya Kolisi leading the charge having proved his fitness without a shadow of a doubt with two massive performances against Wales and the All Blacks in the warm-ups.
“We are pleased with the squad depth we have built in the last few months, and we believe this group of players strikes the right balance to achieve the result we need against Scotland,” said Bok coach Jacques Nienaber.
“We are very excited about this occasion. We’ve been building for this World Cup for the last four years and we are thrilled to get our campaign started.
“We’ve been working hard in the last few weeks to make sure we are as prepared as possible going into this match and we are fully aware of the challenge that awaits us.”
Nienaber also commended De Klerk for reaching a significant career milestone: “Earning 50 Test caps is a massive achievement and to mark that feat in the opening game of the Rugby World Cup makes it very special.
“Faf has been a key member of our team for a few years, so we are delighted for him. Needless to say, we’re all focused on making sure it’s a memorable occasion for him and the rest of us.”
Nienaber said he expected a close tussle against Scotland and that it was important for the team to find their rhythm quickly.
“Scotland are a quality team with a strong pack and skilful backs, and they play with a lot of intensity, so we need to be sharp on attack and defence on Sunday,” admitted Nienaber.
“They have proved in the last few seasons that they can beat any team, and with this being the opening game of the World Cup for both sides, they will be equally as charged up as us for the match.”
Damian Willemse, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Cheslin Kolbe, Manie Libbok, Faf de Klerk, Jasper Wiese, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (c), Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff
Bench: Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane, RG Snyman, Marco van Staden, Duane Vermeulen, Grant Williams, Willie le Roux