South Africa’s coach, Rassie Erasmus, has made 12 changes to the starting line-up that will face New Zealand in a Rugby Championship match in Wellington on Saturday.
Only lock, Eben Etzebeth, flank, Pieter-Steph du Toit and wing, Makazole Mapimpi were retained from the team that beat Australia in Johannesburg last weekend.
Duane Vermeulen will captain the Springboks for the first time, becoming his country’s 62nd test captain.
The Springboks were in fine form against Australia last Saturday. They scored five tries to record an impressive 35-17 victory over the Wallabies. Some players, however, stood out after brilliant performances.
Scrumhalves, Herschel Jantjies and Cobus Reinach, as well as centre Frans Steyn, will no doubt give Erasmus something to think about ahead of the World Cup in Japan later this year.
Wholesale changes to the starting fifteen was not unexpected. Many key players already travelled to New Zealand last week, but certain positions or combinations such as scrumhalf and tighthead prop as well as the loose trio and centre combination have now become very competitive.
Former sevens stalwart, Kwagga Smith, will play in only his second test match. The open side flank made his debut against Wales in Washington last year.
Player of the match against the Wallabies, Jantjies, was included as a replacement while hooker, Bongi Mbonambi and Steyn will also start on the bench.
“This is a big game for us, but we are also preparing for the World Cup, while saying that. With all respect to New Zealand, we also have to try a few things. Elton and Handre will go to the World Cup as the two 10s. But you know things can happen and we have to know who is the next ten. Probably if handre gets injured, Elton will be the next 10 starting. But this is an opportunity to see, if we have to slot in Frans Steyn at 10, maybe at 12, how it goes,” explains Rassie Erusmus.
The Boks will enjoy a bye after the New Zealand test with Argentina waiting in Salta on the 10th of next month.