The Springboks will have Makazole Mapimpi and Kurt-Lee Arendse operating on the wings and young Canan Moodie at centre for Friday’s interesting World Cup warm-up against New Zealand in London, England.
Mapimpi gets going from the left wing and Arendse from the right wing, while Moodie will be at outside centre and André Esterhuizen at inside centre among several changes to the team this week.
These selections form part of coach Jacques Nienaber giving more backline players than forwards opportunities to stake starting berths in the World Cup by doing well against the All Blacks at Twickenham Stadium.
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Damien Willemse features at fullback this week, while there is no change to five members of the pack who contributed to last weekend’s morale-boosting victory over Wales in Cardiff by the Boks.
Nienaber says they will get to see whether Moodie can be used as a back-up in a centre position in future.
Moreover, he doesn’t want any of his squad members going into the World Cup “under-cooked”.
The men retained in the pack from the defeat of Wales by 52-16 on Saturday are in a front row of Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe (props) and Malcolm Marx (hooker), and loose forwards Siya Kolisi and Pieter-Steph du Toit.
Faf de Klerk resumes at scrumhalf in a new halfback pairing, while there are new combinations elsewhere, too.
There is a new lock pairing of Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert, while veteran No. 8 Duane Vermeulen starts in the back row, after coming off the bench in Cardiff.
“The All Blacks will provide a different challenge to Wales, and we believe this group of players is the right mix for this match,” said Nienaber in a statement.
New Zealand play a high-tempo game, and they turn on the intensity from the starting whistle as they showed in Auckland, so it’s vital that we start well this week. We took the lessons from that match, and we’ve built good momentum since, so this will be a fantastic test before we enter our Rugby World Cup campaign.
The Bok coach again opted for a split of six forwards and two backs on the bench, where locks Jean Kleyn and RG Snyman and prop Trevor Nyakane will provide an impact alongside Bongi Mbonambi (hooker), Ox Nche (prop), and Marco van Staden (flanker).
Scrumhalf Cobus Reinach and fullback Willie le Roux will provide backline cover.
On the changes to the team, Nienaber said:
Our objective since the beginning of the season was to strike a balance between performance and managing player load with only six Test matches to get ready for the World Cup, and we are pleased with the way we have developed in that regard. In the last five matches we’ve given everyone, with the exception of the injured players, valuable game time, which is vital going into the World Cup, and we are satisfied with the way we have been building as a team.
Nienaber expected a massive battle against their arch-rivals in front of a crowd of more than 80 000 at Twickenham and said: “The rivalry between the Boks and All Blacks is one of the most intense in world rugby, so it’s a great way for us to wrap up our warm-up matches before heading to France for the World Cup.
“This match may be on neutral ground, but we expect it to be as epic as every other Test between the teams. They are a quality team with several playmakers and physical forwards, and they’ll give everything on Friday.
“We know what to expect and what we need to do to work our way into a position to get the desired result, so as a team we need to be ready mentally and physically.”
Springbok team: 15. Damian Willemse; 14. Kurt-Lee Arendse; 13. Canan Moodie; 12. André Esterhuizen; 11. Makazole Mapimpi; 10. Manie Libbok; 9. Faf de Klerk; 8. Duane Vermeulen; 7. Pieter-Steph du Toit; 6. Siya Kolisi (capt); 5. Franco Mostert; 4. Eben Etzebeth; 3. Frans Malherbe; 2. Malcolm Marx; 1. Steven Kitshoff. Bench: 16. Bongi Mbonambi; 17. Ox Nche; 18. Trevor Nyakane; 19. Jean Kleyn; 20. RG Snyman; 21. Marco van Staden; 22. Cobus Reinach; 23. Willie le Roux.