The Springboks will be without the influential duo of Faf de Klerk and Pieter-Steph du Toit for this weekend’s third Test decider against the Lions.
Head coach Jacques Nienaber confirmed Cobus Reinach and Lood de Jager will replace the injured duo, with de Klerk out through a thigh strain and du Toit unavailable after leaving the second Test early with an aggravated shoulder injury.
Former Northampton scrum-half Reinach, now at Montpellier, comes in for his Sale Sharks counterpart to start instead of Herschel Jantjies – who has appeared off the bench in the two Tests thus far.
In the pack, de Jager will have been a contender to start regardless of du Toit’s fitness after a strong showing off the bench to disrupt the Lions’ lineout in the second half.
The Sale Shark will partner Eben Etzebeth in the second row, as Franco Mostert shifts onto the blindside. There had been long-shot hopes that Duane Vermeulen may have recovered from ankle ligament surgery in time to be in contention, but there is no place for the No.8 as Jasper Wiese continues in the back row.
“Pieter-Steph du Toit was ruled out due to the shoulder injury he suffered last week, but we are fortunate to have experienced players such as Franco and Lood who can step in and who have the physical presence we need in those roles,” Nienaber said.
“Cobus is also an experienced player with a calm head and who can handle pressure, and we believe he will be able to dictate play well alongside Handré Pollard, while Herschel Jantjies has been great in adding the necessary spark we need off the bench, and will be asked to fulfil that role again.”
The Boks took the series to a decider after they clinched the second Test, 27-9.
Tryscorers Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am both continue in the backline, while victory would gift Damian de Allende extra reason to celebrate on the occasion of his 50th cap.
Fly-half Handre Pollard will be deputised by veteran Morne Steyn from the bench. The Springbok hero of the 2009 tour replaces Elton Jantjies and has been a huge value to the South Africa camp, according to Nienaber.
“I am delighted for Morné – he is a world class player and his work ethic and positive attitude on and off the field since joining the team in Bloemfontein has been impressive.
“He can also perform under extreme pressure, as he shown for the Springboks and the Bulls, and that skill will be invaluable in such a vital Test.” For betting odds and handicapping on sports like rugby, American football, and many others, check out Doc’s.
South Africa team to face the Lions in the third Test:
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Cobus Reinach; 1 Steven Kitshoff, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 3 Frans Malherbe, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 5 Lood de Jager, Siya Kolisi, 7 Franco Mostert, 8 Jasper Wiese
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Marco van Staden, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Morne Steyn, 23 Damian Willemse