Durban — South Africa ‘A’ head coach Mzwandile Stick has made five changes to his starting team to face the Bristol Bears on Thursday, including starts for Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu and Marco van Staden in a squad that features 12 capped Springboks.
Feinberg-Mngomezulu joined the SA ‘A’ team in Bristol on Sunday after spending the last two weeks with the Boks in Dublin and Toulon, while Van Staden joined the SA ‘A’ team after being ruled out of Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber’s original 35-man squad due to a rib injury.
Feinberg-Mngomezulu replaces Johan Goosen at flyhalf in a new halfback pairing with Grant Williams, while the only other change among the backs is at fullback, where Gianni Lombard takes over from Aphelele Fassi, who injured an ankle injury in the team’s 28-14 defeat against Munster last Thursday.
At hooker, Andre-Hugo Venter is in for Joseph Dweba, who is on standby for the Springbok squad, and Van Staden replaces Phepsi Buthelezi at flank.
“It was always our intention to give everyone in the squad game time on this tour to assess our player resources and see what the players have to offer at this level,” said Stick.
“This week we will hand a few different players starting berths as the demands are different on players from the starting team and the bench.
“This is a very talented group of players and they have had a little more time to gel in the last few days after having very little time together before the Munster game, and we are confident that this will show when they take the field against Bristol.
“One of the changes was obviously injury-enforced with Aphelele ruled out, and this offered us an opportunity give Sacha some game time after watching from the sidelines in the last two Bok Test matches. He has really impressed the Springbok coaching staff at training with his skills and enthusiasm and we saw what he produced for the Junior Springboks and Stormers, so we are excited to see him playing flyhalf in this match.
“Joseph, meanwhile, is on standby for the Springboks depending on the injury status in their camp and this sees Andre-Hugo earn a start at hooker and JJ Kotze get a run off the bench.”
Stick expected another tough test against Bristol, although he said they would pose a different challenge to Munster.
“Bristol are coached by Pat Lam and with his New Zealand background, he enjoys skillful running rugby, so we are expecting the pace of this game to be faster,” said Stick.
“From our perspective, we also have exciting backs and mobile forwards, and they certainly have the ability to keep up and make their presence felt.”
South Africa ‘A’ starting XV: 15 Gianni Lombard, 14 Suleiman Hartzenberg, 13 Henco van Wyk, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, 9 Grant Williams, 8 Jean-Luc du Preez, 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Thomas du Toit (capt), 2 Andre-Hugo Venter, 1 Ntuthuko Mchunu.
Replacements: 16 JJ Kotze, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Dan du Preez, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Phepsi Buthelezi, 22 Sanele Nohamba, 23 Johan Goosen.