Springboks: Willie le Roux returns to starting line-up with Manie Libbok set for debut off the bench

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber has made five alterations for their Autumn Nations Series clash against France on Saturday.

The most significant comes in the backline as Willie le Roux, who impressed off the bench against Ireland at the weekend, comes in at full-back.

Le Roux effectively replaces Makazole Mapimpi, with Cheslin Kolbe moving to the wing alongside Kurt-Lee Arendse, as the 32-year-old drops to the Springboks bench.

The only other alteration in the backline sees Faf de Klerk come in for Jaden Hendrikse, with the latter dropping out of the squad completely as Cobus Reinach is among the replacements.

Front five changes

Up front, Lood de Jager’s injury means that Franco Mostert starts at lock while Bongi Mbonambi and Ox Nche come into the front-row, replacing Malcolm Marx and Steven Kitshoff respectively.

“One of the changes was injury enforced as Lood suffered a shoulder injury against Ireland, while we opted to make a few tactical personnel changes for the challenge that we expect France to pose,” Nienaber said.

“We know what each of the players in this squad can do, and we thought these combinations fit this specific game.

“A guy like Cobus will also bring a different dimension to our attack, and it a bonus that he knows the conditions in France and has also played with some of their players.

“Manie, meanwhile, has showed his big match temperament in the United Rugby Championship and he has been training well since joining the team, so if he gets a run, it will be a great occasion to make his Test debut.

“It is going to be a challenging game, but it doesn’t get better than playing against the second ranked team in the world on your debut.”

Nienaber believes that this encounter will be ideal preparation for the Rugby World Cup next year, with the 2023 tournament being hosted in France.

“France have showed in the last year what a force they can be, and they come off a morale-boosting victory against Australia, so we know we are in for,” the head coach said.

“Facing France, who are ranked second in the world, on their home patch at what we expect will be a full stadium is great preparation for next year, as the players will experience first-hand what they are in for.

“We will also be playing at this stadium during the World Cup, so this match will be good for us in many ways.”

France challenge

Nienaber is also expecting a huge clash on Saturday and says the Les Bleus will test the Springboks in a number of areas.

“They have a good pack of forwards who pride themselves on their set-pieces and talented backs who can spark something from nothing, so they will test us all around,” he added.

“That said, we know what our players are capable of, and if we had capitalised on more of our opportunities against Ireland we could have been on the right end of the scoreboard. The reality is that we lost against the best team in the world at home in front of a capacity crowd by three points.

“We’ve spoken about what went wrong last week and we are working hard on rectifying those areas so that we can we play our potential and make the nation proud this weekend.”

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Makazole Mapimpi

Date: Saturday, November 12
Venue: Stade Velodrome, Marseille
Kick-off: 21:00 local (20:00 GMT)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referees: Karl Dickson (England), Christophe Ridley (England)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

READ MORE: All Blacks move above the Springboks while Argentina rise two places

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