Springbok number eight, Jasper Wiese, is a late withdrawal from the Springbok team to face France in Marseille on Saturday evening.
Wiese has been withdrawn due to a possible concussion sustained in last Saturday’s test match against Ireland. Kwagga Smith moves from the bench into the starting fifteen, with Deon Fourie taking his place amongst the substitutes.
“We opted for Kwagga because he is an out-and-out No 8, and when we train, he is our second choice No 8. Over and above that he can cover a few positions,” says the SA Rugby Director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus.
The Boks meanwhile are looking forward to testing themselves against the second-best team in World Rugby. Erasmus believes this French team is a complete team.
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“They believe in what they are doing, they have a great coach, their players are young. They are not a team that goes through ups and downs emotionally – you can see they are steady when it goes well and when it goes bad they are a well-balanced team with young guys who are leading their team, and I think that makes them dangerous,” says Erasmus.
The Boks need a win to get their Castle Lager Outgoing Tour Test started in earnest, after last weekend’s 19-16 loss to Ireland in Dublin, and then the SA A-sides loss to Munster in Cork midweek.
The French, who are ranked number two in the world, are an immense challenge but one that Springbok captain, Siya Kolisi says his side is up to face.
“We always want to win every weekend. It is always a pressure situation every weekend. It is never just because we lost now – every game we want to win, every game we want to play well, we want to make the people proud back at home because we have done so well in the past that people expect us to do well,” says Kolisi.
The Bok captain adds that although last week’s loss has put pressure on the team for this match, they are comfortable and assured that their preparation puts them in standing for a good performance and favourable outcome tonight.
The Springboks will be defending their title as champions of world rugby at the Rugby World Cup which will be hosted in France in September and October next year, 2023.
“Playing against France on their home patch a year before the World Cup is good for us all because everyone will get a taste of what it will be like next year,” said Kolisi.
The second match of the Springbok’s end-of-year tour kicks off at 22:00 on Saturday night.
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