Nienaber makes four changes to Springboks for Wales clash

The Springboks will face a Welsh side that will be hurting after suffering a big loss to New Zealand over the weekend.

FILE: Jacques Nienaber at a press conference following his announcement as the Springboks head coach in Pretoria on 24 January 2020. Picture: Phill Magakoe/AFP

CAPE TWON - Coach Jacques Nienaber has made four changes to the Springbok starting team that will face Wales in the first Test match of their end-of-year tour in Cardiff on Saturday.

Damian Willemse, Jesse Kriel and Herschel Jantjies are in the team for South Africa’s first game on tour after the Rugby Championship. They face a Welsh side that will be hurting after suffering a big loss to New Zealand over the weekend.

Willemse, who comes in for regular fullback Willie le Roux, earns his fourth start in the green and gold, while it will be Jantjies’ third Test in the number 9 jersey as he pairs up with Handré Pollard in the halfback combination.

In a bit of a surprise selection, Kriel will start at right wing, moving away from his regular position at center. He replaces Sbu Nkosi, who is yet to travel to the United Kingdom as he awaits the necessary paperwork.

Faf de Klerk was ruled out of the squad due to a hip flexor injury. Speaking of scrum-halves, Jantjies’ promotion to the starting line-up sees Cobus Reinach being drafted onto the replacements bench in the only change among the reserves.

On the challenge that the Boks face this weekend, Nienaber said: "Wales are a tough side to beat and our track record over here in the last few years is evidence of that."

"We also edged them in the Rugby World Cup semifinal, so we know that this is going to be a hard grind of a Test.

"They may have lost against the All Blacks last week (54-16) but this result was in the absence of a number of key players, so this week will be a completely different proposition."

Paul Williams (New Zealand) has been appointed the match referee and he will be assisted by Andrew Brace (Ireland) and James Doleman (New Zealand), while Olly Hodges (Ireland) will serve as the television match official.

Springbok starting team:

15 Damian Willemse, 14 Jesse Kriel, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nché

Replacements:
16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Frans Steyn