Cape Town – The Springboks have been dealt a major blow just a day before their Test against France after Jasper Wiese was ruled out on Friday.
The robust No 8 has been following concussion protocols this week following a blow to the head in last week’s 19-16 loss to Ireland in Dublin.
In the aftermath of that match at the Aviva Stadium, Wiese was listed as a doubtful starter by forwards coach Deon Davids on Monday, while No 5 lock Lood de Jager was officially sidelined for possibly the rest of the tour with a shoulder injury.
But on Tuesday, Wiese was named in the starting line-up once more by head coach Jacques Nienaber.
However, on Friday, the Boks posted their traditional pre-match team photo on their social media channels for Saturday’s clash against the French in Marseille (10pm SA time kickoff), and Wiese was nowhere to be found.
Smith was part of the squad posing, along with Deon Fourie, who will be the loose-forward replacement.
The usual captain’s press conference with Siya Kolisi was also suddenly moved from mid-afternoon to later in the day.
Wiese’s hard running will be missed against the highly physical French pack, where his duel with Gregory Alldritt was sure to be one of the stand-out battles of the Stade Velodrome showdown.
But Smith has an entirely different skill-set, and his speed and ability to contest the breakdowns could give the Boks a different dynamic to what Les Bleus might be expecting from the South Africans.
Fourie also made a significant impact off the bench in Dublin, and will look to hunt down the French ball-carriers at the breakdowns.
Springbok team: 15 Willie le Roux 14 Cheslin Kolbe 13 Jesse Kriel 12 Damian de Allende 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse 10 Damian Willemse 9 Faf de Klerk 8 Kwagga Smith 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit 6 Siya Kolisi (captain) 5 Franco Mostert 4 Eben Etzebeth 3 Frans Malherbe 2 Bongi Mbonambi 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx 17 Steven Kitshoff 18 Vincent Koch 19 Marvin Orie 20 Deon Fourie 21 Cobus Reinach 22 Manie Libbok 23 Makazole Mapimpi.