Talented young utility back Canan Moodie will make his Springbok debut against Australia in Sydney in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship on Saturday as injuries and the desire to try a few new player combinations saw head coach Jacques Nienaber include eight new players in the starting team.
Handre Pollard, Lukhanyo Am and Pieter-Steph du Toit have all been ruled out due to knee injuries, while Elton Jantjies injured his hand and was not available for selection this weekend, which means Damian Willemse will move from fullback to flyhalf, Jesse Kriel will slot in at centre, and Franco Mostert has been included in the loose trio.
The 19-year-old Moodie earns his first start on the right wing in a positional switch with Warrick Gelant, who has been named among the replacements, while the experienced Willie le Roux will take Willemse’s place at fullback, with the other change in the backline at scrumhalf, where Jaden Hendrikse takes over from Faf de Klerk.
Apart from Mostert’s inclusion among the forwards, prop Steven Kitshoff and hooker Malcolm Marx earn starts in a new-look front row with Frans Malherbe, while Jasper Wiese takes over at No 8 from Duane Vermeulen, who will provide an impact off the replacements bench.
These changes see a reshuffle of the front row on the bench, with Deon Fourie serving as the replacement hooker, and Ox Nche and Trevor Nyakane providing cover at prop.
Among the backs, Cobus Reinach will serve as back-up for Hendrikse at scrumhalf, with Frans Steyn providing cover flyhalf and centre, while Gelant will offer options on the wing and fullback.
“We selected a team we thought would be best for this match given that we have several players out with injuries and with an eye on how we want to play,” said Nienaber.
“Handre, Lukhanyo, Elton and Pieter-Steph are all carrying injuries which adds to a list that includes Cheslin Kolbe and Sbu Nkosi, while Kurt-Lee Arendse is also out serving a suspension, and this has forced our hand to make a few changes in some positions.
“With both flyhalves injured, Damian was the natural choice at No 10 where he has slotted in for us a lot. He is also becoming a settled player in our team with over 20 Test caps to his name.
“This will also be a great test for Canan, who was a stand-out player for the Vodacom Bulls this season in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship. He’s a very talented player, who will enjoy this opportunity.”
Nienaber added: “Cobus at his best is world class and having seen what he offers us at training we think he’s close to that form. With him, Warrick and Frans Steyn on the bench we have sufficient cover among the backs.”
Commenting on the changes among the forwards Nienaber said: “With Bongi (Mbonambi) and Trevor injured in the last few weeks we were in a position where we could test other combinations and we got some good answers in that regard.
“This weekend we opted to make a few switches with Ox and Trevor playing off the bench along with Deon Fourie. With Bongi and Malcolm both settled with over 50 Test caps each, it was always our plan to give Joseph (Dweba) and Deon a chance at hooker, and this week Deon gets a run.”
Zoning in on the match itself, Nienaber said: “We had a thorough review of our performance against Australia last week, and the most disappointing aspect is that were dominant in several areas of the game, but we struggled to show that on the scoreboard.
“This week is a final for us to stay in the competition and we are expecting Australia to be just as desperate, but so are we.
“We let ourselves down in the last two games and we are determined to rectify that this week and change our fortunes in Australia. We’ll prepare as well as possible this week to stay in the hunt for the title,” he added.
Springbok team to face Australia in Sydney:
15 – Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz) – 76 caps, 65 pts (13t)
14 – Canan Moodie (Vodacom Bulls) – uncapped
13 – Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles) – 53 caps, 60 pts (12t)
12 – Damian de Allende (Wild Knights) – 63 caps, 35 pts (7t)
11 – Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks) – 30 caps, 105 pts (21t)
10 – Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) – 21 caps, 12 pts (1t, 2c, 1p)
9 – Jaden Hendrikse (Cell C Sharks) – 7 caps, 5 pts (1t)
8 – Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers) – 15 caps, 0 pts
7 – Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) – 56 caps, 5pts (1t)
6 – Siya Kolisi (captain, Cell C Sharks) – 68 caps, 35 pts (7t)
5 – Lood de Jager (Wild Knights) – 61 caps, 25 pts (5t)
4 – Eben Etzebeth (Cell C Sharks) – 103 caps, 15 pts (3t)
3 – Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers) – 51 caps, 5 pts (1t)
2 – Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears) – 52 caps, 55 pts (11t)
1 – Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers) – 64 caps, 5 pts (1t)
16 – Deon Fourie (DHL Stormers) – 1 cap, 0pts
17 – Ox Nche (Cell C Sharks) – 12 caps, 0pts
18 – Trevor Nyakane (Racing 92) – 57 caps, 5pts (1t)
19 – Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs) – 24 caps, 15 pts (3t)
20 – Duane Vermeulen (Ulster) – 63 caps, 15 pts (3t)
21 – Cobus Reinach (Montpellier) – 21 caps, 40pts (8t)
22 – Frans Steyn (Toyota Cheetahs) – 75 caps, 150 pts (11t, 7c, 24p, 3d)
23 – Warrick Gelant (Racing 92) – 11 caps, 15 pts (3t)
Springbok record against the Wallabies in Australia:
Played 42; Won 12; Lost 28; Drawn 2; Points for: 702, Points against: 925; Tries scored 82, Tries conceded 94; Highest score 38-12 in Brisbane (2013); Biggest win 26 points in Brisbane (2013). Win % 28,6%.
- Malcolm Marx is the top try scorer in the squad against Australia with three tries in seven Test matches.
- Siya Kolisi has played 38 Tests as captain, making him the second most capped Springbok captain behind John Smit, who led the team in 83 Tests.
- The total Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is
- There are 257 caps in the backline with 470 caps amongst the forwards. On the bench there are a further 264
- The average caps per player in the backline are 36, the forwards 58, while the players on the bench average 33.