Five changes to Springbok team to take on Wales

JOHANNESBURG — Wales come into Saturday’s Test match against South Africa off the back of a fighting defeat to New Zealand last Saturday. The scoreline of 33-18 to the All Blacks doesn’t tell the story of Wales’ dominance in both territory and possession. Based on that Welsh performance last Saturday, the Springboks have an almighty battle looming at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff and Wales’ biggest win over South Africa by 27 points to 13 last year could well be eclipsed. Bok coach Allister Coetzee has had to make several changes among the forwards as he’s without Duane Vermeulen, Franco Mostert and Francois Louw. Siya Kolisi returns after the birth of his second child, while Malcolm Marx is back from a shoulder injury. Among the backs, Warrick Gelant gets a deserved run-on start for the first time, replacing the out-of-form Courtnall Skosan and two uncapped players in Louis Schreuder and Lukhanyo Am are likely to get their first Test chance off the bench. – David O’Sullivan

From SA Rugby

Warrick Gelant and Dan du Preez will get their first starts for the Springboks in the final Test of 2017, against Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday.

The inclusion of the exciting Gelant is one of five changes to the starting line-up announced by Springbok coach Allister Coetzee on Thursday for the last match of the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour.

Gelant was impressive when he came on as second half replacement against Italy last week for his Springbok debut and has replaced Courtnall Skosan on the left wing for his first start.

MTN is the new headline sponsor for the Springboks.
MTN is the new headline sponsor for the Springboks.

There are four changes amongst the forwards. Steven Kitshoff replaces the experienced Tendai Mtawarira, who is suffering from a groin injury and not available for selection.

Malcolm Marx has shrugged off his shoulder problem and takes over the hooker duties from Bongi Mbonambi, who moves to the bench.

Siya Kolisi is back in the side after missing the Italy Test because of paternal leave, and he comes in for Francois Louw on the side of the scrum, while Du Preez will also earns his first start in the No 8 jersey as replacement for Duane Vermeulen.

Louw, Vermeulen and Franco Mostert (lock) are back at their overseas clubs and not available because this match falls outside the World Rugby Test window.

Meanwhile, the uncapped duo of Lukhanyo Am (centre) and Louis Schreuder (scrumhalf) will join Mbonambi on the bench as two of a number of changes amongst the replacements, with Uzair Cassiem, Oupa Mohoje and Ruan Dreyer also included in the in the match day squad.

Coetzee said the squad has prepared well for the contest against Wales.

“We expect another gruelling contest against a strong Welsh team,” said Coetzee.

“It is another opportunity for this side to develop and grow, playing at the Principality Stadium in front of a passionate crowd of more than 65,000. It will be a different challenge altogether this week – Wales are renowned for their passing game and their width on attack.”

Regarding the shuffles in his team, the Bok coach said: “Dan gets the chance to start and he fits into the plan for Saturday.

“Warrick is an elusive runner, he used his opportunity last week and I am looking forward to see him getting a start on Saturday.

“It is great to welcome Malcolm back, however, Bongi did a superb job against Italy and I expect the same performance from him when he comes on later in the game.”

The battle for lineout possession will again be a key factor on Saturday, and in this regard Coetzee said: “I decided to select two loose forwards onto the bench because Pieter-Steph du Toit can cover lock, while Oupa and Uzair each have a skills set that can fit into different roles when needed.”

Eben Etzebeth will captain the Springbok team for the 11th time this season, playing in his 67 international match for South Africa.

The Springbok team to play against Wales in Cardiff is:

15. Andries Coetzee, Emirates Lions – 12 caps, 0 points

14. Dillyn Leyds, DHL Stormers – 8 caps, 5 points (1 try)

13. Jesse Kriel, Vodacom Bulls – 28 caps, 35 points (7 tries)

12. Francois Venter, Toyota Cheetahs – 6 caps, 5 points (1 try)

11. Warrick Gelant, Vodacom Bulls – 1 caps, 0 points

10. Handré Pollard, Vodacom Bulls – 25 caps, 206 points (2 tries, 35 conversions, 39 penalty goals, 3 drop goals)

9. Ross Cronje, Emirates Lions – 9 caps, 10 points (2 tries)

8. Dan du Preez, Cell C Sharks – 2 caps, 0 points

7. Pieter-Steph du Toit, DHL Stormers – 31 caps, 20 points (4 tries)

6. Siya Kolisi, DHL Stormers, – 27 caps, 20 points (4 tries)

5. Lood de Jager, Vodacom Bulls – 35 caps, 20 points (4 tries)

4. Eben Etzebeth (captain), DHL Stormers – 66 caps, 15 points (3 tries)

3. Wilco Louw, DHL Stormers – 4 caps, 0 points

2. Malcolm Marx, Emirates Lions – 13 caps, 15 points (3 tries)

1. Steven Kitshoff, DHL Stormers – 22 caps, 5 points (1 try)


16. Bongi Mbonambi, DHL Stormers – 13 caps, 5 points (1 try)

17. Trevor Nyakane, Vodacom Bulls – 36 caps, 5 points (1 try)

18. Ruan Dreyer, Emirates Lions – 4 caps, 5 points (1 try)

19. Oupa Mohoje, Toyota Cheetahs – 17 caps, 0 points

20. Uzair Cassiem, Toyota Cheetahs – 7 cap, 5 points (1 try)

21. Louis Schreuder, Cell C Sharks – 0 caps, 0 points

22. Elton Jantjies, Emirates Lions / NTT Shining Arcs (Japan) – 22 caps, 203 points (2 tries, 38 conversions, 38 penalty goals)

23. Lukhanyo Am, Cell C Sharks – 0 caps, 0 points

Stats and facts

The stadium:

  • The Principality Stadium in Cardiff was built on the same ground as Cardiff Arms Park. The opening of the stadium took place in June 1999 and the first major event was the Test on 26 June 1999 between Wales and South Africa.
  • That day, Gary Teichmann’s Springboks became the first ever Springbok side to lose against Wales (19-29).
  • Overall, 17 matches were played at this venue between the Springboks and Wales, with the first dating back to 14 December, 1912.
  • South Africa’s record at this ground: P: 17; W: 13; L: 3; D: 1; PF: 348; PA: 272; TF: 38; TA: 20; Average score: 20-16. Win%: 76%.
  • South Africa’s overall record against Wales: P: 32; W: 28; L: 3; D: 1; PF: 850; PA: 486; TF: 103; TA: 39; Average score: 27-15. Win%: 88%.
  • South Africa scored 96 points against Wales in 1998 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, the fourth highest score in a Test by the Springboks.
  • Wales’ delivered their best performance against South Africa in their 27-13 win in Cardiff in 2016.

Number of caps:

  • The total number of Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is 289. There are 89 caps in the backline with 200 caps amongst the forwards, with a further 99 caps on the bench.
  • The average caps per player in the backline are 13, the forwards 25 while the players on the bench average 12. The average age of the starting 15 is 25.
  • After this Test against Wales, three players would have played in all 13 Test matches during 2017 – they are Andries Coetzee, Eben Etzebeth and Steven Kitshoff.

Match officials

  • The match referee is Jérôme Garcès of France. He was born on 24 October 1973 in Pau, France and made his international debut in a non-Test match between England and the Barbarians at Twickenham on 30 May, 2010.
  • To date, he has officiated in 39 Test matches, with 11 Test matches involving South Africa.
  • The Springboks have won only three of their Test matches when he was in charge, for a win percentage of 27%.
  • The two assistant referees are Wayne Barnes of England and Frank Murphy of Ireland while Rowan Kitt of England is the TMO.


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