The British & Irish Lions will face their toughest test yet when they take on a strong South Africa ‘A’ team named by head coach Jacques Nienaber.
Centre Lukhanyo Am will captain the side that features 18 members of the Springboks World Cup-winning squad, with some labelling Wednesday’s match as an ‘unofficial fourth Test’.
The Springbok camp are coming off a troubled week where a Covid-19 outbreak which produced 26 positive cases led to their second match against Georgia being cancelled.
And that has led to the Springboks using the South Africa ‘A’ match in Cape Town as an opportunity to build match fitness for players set to play in the Test series, which begins on July 24.
South Africa ‘A’ are packed with Test quality with Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert all named in the starting line-up.
Faf de Klerk and Cheslin Kolbe also feature in the backline with veteran Morne Steyn partnering the Sale Sharks No.9 in the half-backs.
“We’re pleased to be able to name a quality team with a number of experienced players despite the challenges in the last week, which included the entire squad being confined to their rooms as part of the team’s preventative self-isolation measures,” said Nienaber.
“We may have lost our captain Siya [Kolisi], but there is a good leadership core within this group with the likes of Morne, Willie [le Roux], Eben [Etzebeth], Trevor [Nyakane] and Steven [Kitshoff], among others, whose experience will be invaluable in a match against a quality British & Irish Lions outfit.
“Players such as Joseph and Nicolaas will also get their first taste of running out in the green and gold at senior level in what will mark a memorable occasion in their careers and we are excited to see them showcase their skills.”
Nienaber has named ten replacements for the match but this number will be whittled down to eight closer to kick-off.
Saracens tighthead prop Vincent Koch is among those on the bench, as well as Sale loosehead Coenie Oosthuizen and Malcolm Marx.
South Africa ‘A’ team to take on the British & Irish Lions (Wednesday, 7pm BST kick-off)
South Africa ‘A’: 15 Willie Le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am (c), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Sbu Nkosi, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Faf de Klerk; 1 Steven Kitshoff, 2 Joseph Dweba, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 5 Franco Mostert, 6 Marco van Staden, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 8 Jasper Wiese
Replacements (to be reduced to eight): 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 20 Rynhardt Elstadt, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Jesse Kriel, 23 Damian Willemse, 24 Kwagga Smith, 25 Elton Jantjies