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Sbu Nkosi during a Springbok training session at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Gqeberha. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/DAVID ROGERS
Sbu Nkosi during a Springbok training session at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Gqeberha. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/DAVID ROGERS

A potent mix of athleticism and power in the Argentina ranks will be a dangerous combination for the Springboks to deal with in Saturday’s Test, wing Sbu Nkosi says.

After a series win over the British & Irish Lions, the Boks start their Rugby Championship campaign with a tricky opener in Gqeberha on Saturday (kick-off 5.05pm).

Nkosi is one of the players the Boks are counting on to unlock a resolute Argentina defence at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

“Argentina are a very strong outfit and they deserve all the respect we can give them and we will prepare with that in mind,” Nkosi said. “I expect them to be confident and to come off their line.

“Argentina are a very physical team and I must say they have a good mix of athleticism and power. They are very similar to what we bring to the table, so we are expecting them to confront us physically.

“The battles you fight against Argentina are different to the battles you would fight against the Lions. That is because of the make-up of their team, and we expect them to be confident and to stand their ground.

“But we have made plans of our own. We need to give them respect, because they have slayed a few giants over their past few games. We need to be on point to make sure we don’t throw the short end of the stick.”

Nkosi, who has 11 Bok caps to his credit, said he is always excited when he represents his country.

“The excitement never changes, and it is always pretty exciting for me to be here at all with the Boks,” he said. “There are a lot of people who are not here but would like to be here.

“As our coach Jacques Nienaber says each week, you have a different responsibility. The way it has gone in the past few weeks, my responsibility has been to prepare the guys.

“That is also exciting because it could be someone else wearing those shoes, but it has been me. So excitement does not change, only the responsibility, and I am looking forward to playing Argentina.”

Nienaber has rung the changes for Saturday’s clash with Nkosi featuring in a new-look backline. Elton Jantjies starts at flyhalf in a halfback pairing with Cobus Reinach, while Frans Steyn and Jesse Kriel join forces in the midfield in place of Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am.

The other changes in the backline see Damian Willemse replace Willie le Roux at fullback, while Nkosi and Aphelele Fassi will start on the wing in place of Cheslin Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi.

On the replacements bench, Marvin Orie and Dan du Preez have been drafted in to provide cover at lock and loose forward respectively. The two backline replacements are Herschel Jantjies (scrumhalf) and Morné Steyn (flyhalf).

“It is a long season, so it’s important that we manage the players well and rotate our squad to ensure that everyone gets sufficient game time and rest,” Nienaber said.

“We have a talented squad, and we are excited to see some of the players get a chance to show what they can do against a tough Argentinian outfit.

“Most of the players in this match-day squad have been with us since our conditioning camp in Bloemfontein in June, and they’ve been working hard at training and deserve this opportunity to take to the field.”


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