Springboks bring in big guns for 100th test with All Blacks

The Springboks have the comfort of the vastly experienced and versatile Frans Steyn on the bench for the 100th test against the All Blacks. HANNAH PETERS/GETTY IMAGES

The Springboks have recalled the experienced trio of Lood de Jager, Elton Jantjies and Frans Steyn for Saturday’s Rugby Championship test against New Zealand in Townsville.

Coach Jacques Nienaber has looked to some big guns to help right the Boks after successive defeats to the Wallabies ahead of this 100th test against the All Blacks.

Nienaber has made five changes to the match-day squad from last weekend’s disappointing defeat to Australia. Two of the changes are in the starting lineup, and three on the bench.

Big lock De Jager has completed his concussion protocol and been cleared to play. He reunites with Eben Etzebeth in an uncompromising second row combination.

The other change in the starting lineup is at blindside flank where Kwagga Smith is promoted from the bench in a direct switch with Franco Mostert.

Elton Jantjies and Frans Steyn are the new players amongst the replacements, with Steyn set to provide cover at centre and fullback, and Jantjies at flyhalf, while Herschel Jantjies will cover halfback.

Star wing Cheslin Kolbe is still recovering from the knock he took to the leg before the first test against Australia.

“It’s always a massive task to face the All Blacks,” said Nienaber.

“They have skillful players who thrive on turnover ball and who know how to capitalise on point-scoring opportunities, so we know that we need to a deliver a quality 80-minute performance against them to turn the corner after two disappointing defeats.

“Experience will be vital to ensure that we remain focused and calm throughout the match, and players such as Elton and Frans will bring that when they take the field. They have both played and won against the All Blacks, but they will also bring a set of different skills.

“Lood also boasts 51 test caps, which will be valuable in this match, while has Kwagga has faced them before as well, which gives us a chance to give Franco a well-deserved opportunity to be managed carefully this week after a physically taxing load since the season started.

“Both Elton and Frans have been training very well, they’ve also been in our structures for years and have performed well for the team in high-pressure matches, so we are keen to see what dynamic they will bring to the game.”

Nienaber expects an epic encounter with the All Blacks, who have won all four of their Rugby Championship matches with bonus points.

“We are fully aware of the challenge that awaits us, and we know what we have to do to stay on the right side of the scoreboard this weekend – strong defence, accurate execution and capitalising on our point-scoring chances will be key,” said Nienaber.

“We also have to ensure we make minimal mistakes because the All Blacks have proved time and again how they punish teams from small errors, so we need to deliver an effective performance all around.”

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Trevor Nyakane. Reserves: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Frans Steyn.

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