Franco Mostert in for injured Etzebeth as Boks prepare to square with France
Gloucester lock included in Bok team to face France
Despite indicating that lock Eben Etzebeth would be fit to take on France in Paris on Saturday, coach Rassie Erasmus decided against picking him for the clash when he revealed his team on Thursday.
Former Lions and current Gloucester lock Franco Mostert replaces Etzebeth in one of three changes following last week’s 12-11 defeat to England.
Scrumhalf Faf de Klerk and fullback Willie le Roux were also included in the team.
Etzebeth was not considered because of an ankle injury he picked up against the English, which forced him to leave the field early at Twickenham.
“We believe it would be better not to rush Eben back as we still have two Tests left on the tour after the match against France,” said Erasmus.
De Klerk replaces Ivan van Zyl while Le Roux comes in for Damian Willemse. Both Van Zyl and Willemse drop out of the match 23 altogether. Scrumhalf Embrose Papier retains his place on the bench while Cheslin Kolbe returns to take his place among the replacements.
Saracens prop Vincent Koch is also included among the reserves with Wilco Louw dropped from the squad that lost to England at Twickenham.
Kolbe, Mostert, Le Roux, Koch and De Klerk were all unavailable last weekend as the match fell outside the official Test window.
Hooker Malcolm Marx, who was one of the main culprits for the loss last weekend with his wayward lineout throwing, retains his place with Bongi Mbonambi on the wood for another week. The Boks lost four balls on their own throw, all in crucial positions.
Marx’s retention means there is still no place for third choice hooker Schalk Brits.
There are only five survivors in the Bok team that played France in Paris 12 months ago — centre Jesse Kriel, flyhalf Handré Pollard, looseforwards Duane Vermeulen and Siya Kolisi, and hooker Marx.
“It’s good to have the experienced players back in the starting team for France,” said Erasmus. “I thought Damian and Ivan did very well last week against England but you need as much experience as possible playing away from home.
“We are building squad depth for the Rugby World Cup and they will be back in the mix as the tour progresses,” he said.
“Franco has started in eight of our 11 Tests this year and he starts with Pieter-Steph du Toit, who is obviously also a good option to move to loose forward later in the match.”
France have picked the powerful Louis Picamoles at No 8 while their backline includes centre Mathieu Bastareaud. The pair are two of five starters from 2017’s match which the Boks won 18-17.
“The French are very physical and skilful and the Springboks will have to be good on defence and also be disciplined,” said Erasmus.
“The conditions in the northern hemisphere demand a different approach and while we created a lot of opportunities last week we have to improve our execution,” he said.