Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber named 18 Rugby World Cup winners in a strong South Africa ‘A’ team captained by Lukhanyo Am for their clash with the British & Irish Lions in a Castle Lager Lions Series match at Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday.
Uncapped Joseph Dweba (hooker) and Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg (lock) were also among the 25 named – including 10 replacements from which the final eight will be confirmed closer to kick off.
The starting XV features five players who started in the Springboks’ Test against Georgia a little over two weeks ago while Morne Steyn, who kicked the penalty goal to win a series against the Lions 12 years ago, makes his reacquaintance with the famous red jersey.
“We’re pleased to be able to name a quality team with a number of experienced players despite the challenges in the last week, which included the entire squad being confined to their rooms as part of the team’s preventative self-isolation measures,” said Nienaber.
“We may have lost our captain Siya (Kolisi), but there is a good leadership core within this group with the likes of Morné, Willie (le Roux), Eben (Etzebeth), Trevor (Nyakane) and Steven (Kitshoff), among others, whose experience will be invaluable in a match against a quality British & Irish Lions outfit.
“Players such as Joseph and Nicolaas will also get their first taste of running out in the green and gold at senior level in what will mark a memorable occasion in their careers and we are excited to see them showcase their skills.”
The five players who started against Georgia are Willie le Roux (fullback), Pieter-Steph du Toit (flank), Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth (both locks) and Trevor Nyakane (prop); all World Cup winners. Other veterans of Japan 2019 in the starting team are prop Steven Kitshoff, Faf de Klerk at scrumhalf, wings Cheslin Kolbe and Sbu Nkosi and centres Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am.
Jasper Wiese (No 8), who made his Test debut against Georgia, joins Marco van Staden and Du Toit in the loose trio, while Rugby World Cup winners among the extended replacement squad are Vincent Koch (prop), Kwagga Smith (loose forward), Herschel Jantjies (scrumhalf), Elton Jantjies (flyhalf), Jesse Kriel (centre) and Damian Willemse (utility back). The coach is set to make the final call on which players will serve as the replacements in the next two days.
Nienaber has handed over the coaching reigns to Erasmus as he continues to self-isolate after testing positive for COVID-19. Nienaber said: “Rassie has been hands on in our coaching and team selection meetings, he helped formulate our team structures, and he knows the players and coaching staff well, so it’s not an issue to adapt.”
The Springboks arrived in Cape Town on Sunday, while the players and team management who are in self-isolation will complete their mandatory isolation period in Johannesburg before making the trip to Cape Town.
The match kicks off at 20h00 and will be broadcast live on SuperSport.
South Africa ‘A’ team to face British & Irish Lions at Cape Town Stadium
15 – Willie le Roux
14 – Cheslin Kolbe
13 – Lukhanyo Am
12 – Damian de Allende
11 – Sbu Nkosi
10 – Morné Steyn
9 – Faf de Klerk
8 – Jasper Wiese
7 – Pieter-Steph du Toit
6 – Marco van Staden
5 – Franco Mostert
4 – Eben Etzebeth
3 – Trevor Nyakane
2 – Joseph Dweba
1 – Steven Kitshoff
16 – Malcolm Marx
17 – Coenie Oosthuizen
18 – Vincent Koch
19 – Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg
20 – Rynhardt Elstadt
21 – Herschel Jantjies
22 – Jesse Kriel
23 – Damian Willemse
24 – Kwagga Smith
25 – Elton Jantjies