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Springboks make wholesale changes for Wales rematch

South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber.

Springboks make wholesale changes for Wales rematch

South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber has made 14 changes to his starting side to face Wales in Bloemfontein this Saturday.

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Only second-row Eben Etzebeth remains from the team which edged out Wales 32-29 in an epic test match at Loftus Versfeld last weekend. Nienaber has drafter in veteran outside-half Handre Pollard to as captain in place of Siya Kolisi.

There are six uncapped players in this Springboks 23 with impressive Stormers No 8 Evan Roos, and speedster Kurt-Lee Arendse named to start. Ntuthuko Mchunu, Ruan Nortje, Deon Fourie and scrum-half Grant Williams could make their debuts off the bench.

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If he comes off the bench versatile forward Fourie, 35, will be the oldest player in history to make his debut for South Africa. The world champions are also boosted by the return from injury of former World Rugby player of the year Pieter-Steph du Toit.

Only four players in the first Test match 23 retained their places with hooker Malcolm Marx, prop Vincent Koch and Damian Willemse – who kicked the winning penalty in Pretoria – included on the bench. “We said from the outset that we needed to strike a balance between giving our talented young players an opportunity to show what they can do at international level, and winning,” said Nienaber.

“If one looks at the balance between players who have played at this level and those who have performed consistently well for their franchises and clubs, I think we have a nice balance in this squad. A number of these players have been with us for a few seasons, while others travelled with us last season to Australia Rugby Championship and the year-end tour.

“Then there are a few new faces who showed during the season that they have the potential to rise to this level of the game, so we are excited to see what they can do on Saturday. Wales showed last week that they are fighters and can go for the full 80 minutes and we are expecting nothing different from them this week.

“This will be a good test for the younger players in the group to measure themselves against some of the best players in Wales, some of whom played for the British & Irish Lions, so everyone knows they will be in for a proper Test on Saturday.

“We are delighted to see these players get an opportunity at this level and I believe if they play to their potential, they will bolster our depth going forward. They are all very excited at the prospect of wearing the green and gold, but they also know what Wales will bring on the day and that every opportunity will be important.”

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