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Andre Esterhuizen and Damian de Allende are a great combination, says Jacques Nienaber

Andre Esterhuizen and Damian de Allende are a great combination, says Jacques Nienaber

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Cape Town — Andre Esterhuizen and Salmaan Moerat have been training hard all year long, and deserved to get starts for the Springboks in Saturday’s Test against Italy in Genoa (3pm kickoff).

That was the view of Bok coach Jacques Nienaber on Tuesday after he announced a much changed match-23 from the one that lost 30-26 to France in Marseille last week.

In the backline, Esterhuizen slots in at No 12 for Damian de Allende, who shifts to outside centre in place of Jesse Kriel, while in the pack, Moerat replaces stalwart No 4 Eben Etzebeth.

Franco Mostert’s shift to blindside flank for Pieter-Steph du Toit — whose World Rugby hearing will take place on Wednesday morning only following his red card against France — sees Marvin Orie coming in at No 5.

First-choice No 8 Jasper Wiese has also been reinstated at the back of the scrum ahead of Kwagga Smith, after sitting out the French Test with concussion.

There is a six-two split on the bench, where Smith and Evan Roos are the loose forwards, while Manie Libbok is retained as the utility-back cover.

Cheslin Kolbe (possible concussion) and Malcolm Marx (knee) have also been cleared to play.

Nienaber explained that he was happy with Kriel’s form against Ireland and France, but wanted to see what Esterhuizen can produce against the Azzurri.

“I thought Jesse did well, but some of our players won’t be available against England because it’s out of the Test-match window — and Andre is one of them,” Nienaber said.

“He has been with us now for the whole year, and he has been training well and deserves a chance. We always earmarked this game, if there wasn’t injuries, to give him a proper go.

“We think the combination with Andre and Damian is a great combination, especially if you face a side like Italy. But certainly, Jesse was exceptional in the last two games that he played for us.

“We felt a guy like Eben has served us in all the Test matches up to now. It’s a purely rotation decision over there.

“Also, Salmaan has been training well and deserves an opportunity. We felt that combination at United Rugby Championship level gave us the opportunity to start with both of them, and the nice thing is that we still have Franco Mostert there at No 7 and Eben on the bench.”

On the loose forwards in the match-23, SA director of rugby Rassie Erasmus — who featured in all three positions throughout his career — stated that he was looking forward to seeing the different dynamics come into play in the second half.

“To have a guy like Sous (Mostert), who can move to No 7 flank or 5 lock … So somewhere in the game, it will probably end up with Eben and Sous at lock, and probably Kwagga at flank and Evan in the place of Jasper,” Erasmus said.

“It will probably pan out to something like that, because we know we will need that kind of impact against Italy, the way they’ve just been growing as a team.”

Springbok Team

15 Willie le Roux 14 Cheslin Kolbe 13 Damian de Allende 12 Andre Esterhuizen 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse 10 Damian Willemse 9 Faf de Klerk 8 Jasper Wiese 7 Franco Mostert 6 Siya Kolisi (captain) 5 Marvin Orie 4 Salmaan Moerat 3 Frans Malherbe 2 Bongi Mbonambi 1 Ox Nche

Bench: 16 Malcolm Marx 17 Steven Kitshoff 18 Vincent Koch 19 Eben Etzebeth 20 Kwagga Smith 21 Evan Roos 22 Cobus Reinach 23 Manie Libbok


IOL Sport

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