South Africa: Damian Willemse starts at 10, Canan Moodie to make debut for Springboks

·4-min read
 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber has rung the changes to his starting XV with Canan Moodie set to make his Test debut on the right wing, while Damian Willemse has been named at fly-half for the Test against the Wallabies in Sydney.

There are eight new players named in the starting line-up after last week’s defeat to Australia in Adelaide, with Handre Pollard, Lukhanyo Am and Pieter-Steph du Toit all sidelined with knee injuries, while Elton Jantjies is unavailable for selection after sustaining a hand injury.

Willie le Roux back at 15

That means Willie le Roux returns to the run-on side at full-back while Jesse Kriel and Franco Mostert will start at outside centre and on the blindside flank respectively.

Moodie takes over from Warrick Gelant, who has been named on the bench, while Jaden Hendrikse comes in for Faf de Klerk who drops out of the matchday squad with Cobus Reinach preferred to him as scrum-half cover.

Other changes in the forwards sees Steven Kitshoff and Malcolm Marx replacing Ox Nche and Joseph Dweba as the starting loosehead prop and hooker while Jasper Wiese starts at number eight with Duane Vermeulen demoted to the bench. Nche and Trevor Nyakane will be the back-up props while Deon Fourie has been named as the replacement hooker.

Rounding out the replacements is Kwagga Smith and Frans Steyn, who are retained as forward and backline cover.

“We selected a team we thought would be best for this match given that we have several players out with injuries and with an eye on how we want to play,” said Nienaber.

“Handre, Lukhanyo, Elton and Pieter-Steph are all carrying injuries which adds to a list that includes Cheslin Kolbe and Sbu Nkosi, while Kurt-Lee Arendse is also out serving a suspension, and this has forced our hand to make a few changes in some positions.

“With both flyhalves injured, Damian was the natural choice at No 10 where he has slotted in for us a lot. He is also becoming a settled player in our team with over 20 Test caps to his name.

“This will also be a great test for Canan, who was a stand-out player for the Vodacom Bulls this season in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship. He’s a very talented player, who will enjoy this opportunity.”

Nienaber welcomed Reinach back after he made a full recovery from a shoulder injury.

“Cobus at his best is world class and having seen what he offers us at training we think he’s close to that form. With him, Warrick and Frans Steyn on the bench we have sufficient cover among the backs.”

Regarding the changes amongst the forwards, Nienaber said: “With Bongi (Mbonambi) and Trevor injured in the last few weeks we were in a position where we could test other combinations and we got some good answers in that regard.

“This weekend we opted to make a few switches with Ox and Trevor playing off the bench along with Deon Fourie. With Bongi and Malcolm both settled with over 50 Test caps each, it was always our plan to give Joseph (Dweba) and Deon a chance at hooker, and this week Deon gets a run.”

Nienaber believes there is plenty of room for improvement from his charges.

Struggled to convert dominance into points

“We had a thorough review of our performance against Australia last week, and the most disappointing aspect is that were dominant in several areas of the game, but we struggled to show that on the scoreboard,” he said.

“This week is a final for us to stay in the competition and we are expecting Australia to be just as desperate, but so are we.

“We let ourselves down in the last two games and we are determined to rectify that this week and change our fortunes in Australia. We’ll prepare as well as possible this week to stay in the hunt for the title.”

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Canan Moodie, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx , 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Kwagga Smith, 20 Duane Vermeulen, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Warrick Gelant

Date: Saturday, September 3
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: 19:35 local (10:35 BST, 09:35 GMT)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), Tual Trainini (France)
TMO: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)

READ MORE: Rugby Championship: Steven Kitshoff backs Springboks to bounce back against Wallabies

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