Notshe right fit to step into Whiteley’s shoes
Springbok coach Erasmus believes Stormers eighthman plays similar type of game to injured former skipper
Port Elizabeth -Stormers No8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe has a golden chance to lay down a marker in Test rugby when he makes his run-on debut for the Springboks against Australia on Saturday.
Notshe gets his opportunity because regular No8 Warren Whiteley has been ruled out of the crunch Rugby Championship clash at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium by a groin strain.
The inclusion of Cheslin Kolbe on the right wing and Notshe in the pack are two of four changes to the Bok starting team that beat the All Blacks two weeks ago in Wellington.
The elusive Kolbe made his Springbok debut in Brisbane three weeks ago and was sent on as an early replacement against the All Blacks the following week, scoring a try early in the second half.
Jesse Kriel, who started at right wing in Wellington, moves back to outside centre. Kriel is set to partner strong-running André Esterhuizen in a revamped midfield as a result of the injuries to Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am.
In the pack there is a rotation at loosehead prop between Tendai Mtawarira and Steven Kitshoff, who will provide vital impact off the bench.
The rest of the starting line-up is unchanged, with Mtawarira set to make his 106th Test match appearance for the Springboks on Saturday.
"I know Sikhumbuzo well and when I was at Munster in Ireland we had a lot of contact," Bok coach Rassie Erasmus said.
"I have known him for quite a few years and I know what his skills set is. He brings the same sort of things as Warren does.
"He was involved in the England Test series and we did well with him when he came on.
"I think that in leadership and experience Warren is ahead of him. But they are similar and both have a sevens background.
"Sikhumbuzo has a good feel for the game and he links up nicely with captain Siya Kolisi and the rest of the guys in the team," he said.
"I am very excited for him to get this chance."
The Boks have also made some changes to their bench. Marco van Staden comes into the match-day squad as replacement for Francois Louw, and Embrose Papier is the new back-up scrumhalf in place of Ross Cronjé. Highly rated Damian Willemse returns to the bench, and is likely to get to show off his skills in front of a capacity 46,000 crowd.
"Cheslin has been very impressive since he joined the squad a few weeks ago and now he gets a deserved opportunity to start in a big Test.
"The inclusion of Beast [Mtawarira] in the front row is a straight swap for Steven [Kitshoff] and Jesse [Kriel] returns to outside centre, a position where he has played most of his Test rugby, next to André [Esterhuizen], who has started in four Tests already this year," the coach said.
"The players that we sent on took their chances against New Zealand and that’s what we want from this group. We are trying to build experience in the squad that we can take to the Rugby World Cup," he said.
Australia have handed a first start to powerhouse prop Taniela Tupou. The explosive front rower shone when the Wallabies beat the Boks in Brisbane.