The Springboks recently suffered a last-second Rugby Championship defeat to Australia following Quade Cooper’s heroics, but South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber has kept the faith in most of his team.
South Africa have named only two changes to their XV for Saturday’s fixture against Australia, where the Springboks hope to avenge their recent Rugby Championship defeat. Head coach Jacques Nienaber witnessed his team fall at Cbus Super Stadium after Quade Cooper kicked a spectacular last-second penalty to secure a 28-25 victory for Wallabies.
There’s still no sign of star winger Cheslin Kolbe after he missed that defeat due to a leg injury, with Sbu Nkosi set to remain his deputy on the right-wing at Suncorp Stadium. As Marvin Orie replaces Lood de Jager, the world champions are without lock Lood De Jager, who is now in the return-to-play protocols after a concussion.
Orie, 28 years old, will make his second Test appearance for the Springboks. He will also be partnering with former Tygerberg High School teammate Eben Etzebeth on the second row. Trevor Nyakane is the only other change as he comes in for Steven Kitshoff, who replaces Ox Nche on the bench for the second clash between these teams in the space of six days.
Although the margins were slim on the Gold Coast, Cooper’s team won an important win. However, Nienaber was confident with the few changes he made this week to his team.
“We identified the areas in which we need to be more effective this week, and we have been working hard at training to rectify the mistakes we made, so the key for us will be to be as competitive as possible in every contest during the match so that we can lay a good foundation to attack from and to use our point-scoring chances,” The Springboks coach said this to reporters.
South Africa outscored their ‘hosts’ three to one in tries last time out, but Cooper kicked 23 of his side’s 28 points in what was his first international appearance since June 2017.
That display highlighted the 33-year-old’s quality and even led to his bid for Australian citizenship being approved, but beating the Boks again will prove an even more difficult task.
Nienaber touched on the confidence the Wallabies are sure to have taken from that victory and how it might influence their performance: “Australia was desperate to win last week, and it showed in the way they played. “There is no doubt the result would have given them confidence, so we are expecting them to deliver a similarly driven performance this week.
“That said, we know what we are capable of as a team, and we created sufficient opportunities to win last week, but we didn’t capitalize on them. We back our systems and structures. It is now about being as efficient and effective as possible in executing this plan.
“We are expecting another grind of a match, but we are ready for the challenge. Our next three matches will be similar to playing a quarter-final, semi-final, and final if we want to defend our Castle Lager Rugby Championship title, and we are under no illusions about what it will take to achieve this.”
A second straight defeat to Dave Rennie’s side would all but gift the 2021 Rugby Championship title to New Zealand, who demolished Argentina 39-0 last Sunday. The All Blacks lead the standings by five points and could easily double their lead over South Africa if the Springboks fail to fall to Australia.
That would mean Nienaber’s side would need to beat Ian Foster’s side in back-to-back games to have any chance of retaining the title they won in 2019. South Africa is wiser to Cooper’s threat ahead of Saturday’s encounter in Brisbane, while opposite number Handre Pollard is seeking improvement after he missed a string of kicks last time out.
South Africa team to face Australia
(Backs) Willie le Roux, Sbu Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; (Forwards) Duane Vermeulen, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi, Marvin Orie, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Trevor Nyakane
Reps: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Jasper Wiese, Herschel Jantjies, Damian Willemse