Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber at training ahead of the first Test between SA and the British & Irish Lions on Saturday. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/EJ LANGNER
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber at training ahead of the first Test between SA and the British & Irish Lions on Saturday. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/EJ LANGNER

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has made three changes to the starting team and six in total to the match-day squad ahead of the second Test of the series against the British & Irish Lions at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.

Two of these changes are in the front row where prop Steven Kitshoff‚ who made his Test debut against Ireland in 2016‚ will earn his 50th Test cap next to Frans Malherbe and Bongi Mbonambi in a new-look combination for the hosts.

Ox Nché ‚ who packed down with Trevor Nyakane and Mbonambi last weekend‚ has been ruled out due to the neck niggle he picked up in the first Test, while Mbonambi’s hamstring strain has recovered sufficiently for him to start the match.

The other change in the starting XV is at No 8. Jasper Wiese of Leicester Tigers in England will earn his first Test start after making his debut off the bench against Georgia earlier this month.

Nienaber opted for a six-two split on the bench‚ which sees Nyakane and Vincent Koch provide cover at prop‚ Marco van Staden taking over from Rynhardt Elstadt as loose forward cover along with Kwagga Smith, and Herschel Jantjies and Damian Willemse supporting the backline. 

Damian de Allende‚ who retains his midfield partnership with Lukhanyo Am‚ will take one step closer to earning his half century of caps as he will be running onto the field in his 49th Test‚ while Lood de Jager will earn his 47th cap if he takes to the field.

“This is a massive game for us. It is do or die in order to stay in the race to win the series‚ and we selected a team that offers continuity in selection‚ but also we thought we would be the best suited to achieve the objectives we have set for this match‚” Nienaber said.

“Ox did well in the scrums last week and has been ruled out due to injury‚ but fortunately we have a world-class player in Steven who can step into the starting team. The fact that this will mark his 50th Test will make this occasion even more important for him.”

Of the decision to opt for a six-two split in the replacements‚  Nienaber said: “We have had an extra week on the training field after a few disruptive weeks in the build-up to the opening Test‚ so we are confident  the players will be able to deliver on the physicality and grit that will be required in this match.

“We need to be better in every area of the game this week‚ and the set pieces will be crucial in laying the foundations we need to execute our game plan effectively.

“We also spoke about our discipline and the aerial battle as a team‚ and we intend to work as hard as possible at training this week to correct the errors that cost us last week.”

Nienaber expects another epic battle against the tourists and said the Boks are in the right frame of mind to bounce back from the disappointment they endured last week.

“We disappointed ourselves last week‚ and we all know how important it is to bounce back with a strong performance and show our fighting spirit and pride as a team and as a nation‚” the coach said.

“For most players the  series is a once in a lifetime opportunity‚ and we desperately want to win the series.  So we will fight as hard as we can on the field to win this week so that we can achieve that goal.”

Springbok team: Willie le Roux‚ Cheslin Kolbe‚ Lukhanyo Am‚ Damian de Allende‚ Makazole Mapimpi‚ Handré Pollard‚ Faf de Klerk‚ Jasper Wiese‚ Pieter-Steph du Toit‚  Siya Kolisi (capt)‚ Franco Mostert‚ Eben Etzebeth‚ Frans Malherbe‚ Bongi Mbonambi‚  Steven Kitshoff.

Replacements: Malcolm Marx‚ Trevor Nyakane‚ Vincent Koch‚ Lood de Jager‚ Marco van Staden‚ Kwagga Smith‚ Herschel Jantjies‚ Damian Willemse.