Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has gone for an all new front row for this weekend’s Rugby Championship clash against Argentina in Salta.
Props Tendai Mtawarira and Trevor Nyakane and hooker Bongi Mbonambi start in place of Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe and Malcolm Marx respectively.
Mbonambi will earn his 29th cap but only his fourth start, while Nyakane earns his fourth start in his 40th Test.
Otherwise the team is unchanged from the side that drew 16-16 with the All Blacks in Wellington nearly two weeks ago. No 8 Duane Vermeulen will again captain the side.
Meanwhile Bok centre Lukhanyo Am and assistant coach Mzwandile Stick are steadfastly sticking to the prearranged script of “building momentum” to the World Cup days before facing the Pumas.
With the Rugby Championship title theirs to win‚ the Springboks have downplayed talk of taking their first meaningful silverware in a decade and instead focused on the longterm goal of World Cup success.
The World Cup obviously remains a priority‚ but a lean international trophy cabinet at SA Rugby headquarters could do with some filling.
The Nelson Mandela Plate for beating Australia is just not enough anymore.
The Boks thrashed the Wallabies 35-17 at Ellis Park in July before the draw against the All Blacks a week later.
That put them one point clear of New Zealand in the race for the title and crucially‚ puts the destiny of the Rugby Championship crown in their hands regardless of what the All Blacks do to the Wallabies earlier on Saturday.
“Playing away in Argentina is always a tough game and we have prepared based on what we have seen in the previous two Tests‚” Am said. “It is a great opportunity for us to win the Championship. But we do not want to look too much into it.
“It is another Test that we are looking to build on. The big picture is the World Cup. There is pressure in every Test that we play and going into this game we know there is a chance of winning the Championship. But if there is pressure‚ it is only positive pressure.
“The Argentinian side is quite physical. They keep possession quite a lot. They link up well between forwards and backs. It will be an exciting game for us in terms of playing against Argentina at their home ground.”
The Pumas have lost both Rugby Championship matches but ran the All Blacks close in Buenos Aires in round one. Losing 20-16 at home was a
disappointment for Argentina‚ especially against an experimental All Black unit.
Beating the Boks would be a huge boost for the Pumas before the World Cup.
After the Jaguares’ superb run to the 2019 Super Rugby final‚ some of the confidence and momentum gained from that campaign has dissipated after two Rugby Championship defeats for essentially the same team.
But that also makes them particularly dangerous‚ a fact Stick noted.
Listen to the latest episode of the SportsLIVE PODCAST
MB Lusaseni exclusive Part1: "I got paid R2K, others got R700 playing pro rugby"
Willie le Roux; Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi; Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Duane Vermeulen (capt), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Kwagga Smith; Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth; Trevor Nyakane, Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, RG Snyman, Francois Louw, Herschel Jantjies, François Steyn, Jesse Kriel