National director of rugby Rassie Erasmus is close to his preferred team.
That seems like a logical conclusioin from the fact that he has retained the 23-man squad that drew 16-all with the All Blacks ten days ago and made only three changes to the starting team for the crucial Rugby Championship match against the Pumas in Salta on Saturday (21:40).
The whole front row has been replaced by last week’s front row bench. The Boks will go into the match that could clinch the Rugby Championship for them the first time since 2009 with Beast Mtawarira, Bongi Mbonambi and Trevor Nyakane to front up against a Pumas front row that has struggled thus far, as did the Jaguares in the Super Ruby competition.
Mtawarira, the most experienced Springbok prop in history, and Nyakane replace Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe while Mbonambi takes over the hooker duties from Malcolm Marx.
All three front rankers who started the test at the Westpac Stadium in the New Zealand capital are due to make an impact off the bench against the Pumas on Saturday.
National director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus, described Saturday’s vital clash as another very important opportunity to build momentum towards the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
“The Pumas are a very difficult team to play at home and they will be fired up for this one in front of their passionate crowd in Salta,” said Erasmus.
Regarding the tweaked front row, Erasmus said: “This test is a good opportunity for Bongi and Trevor to start next Beast who has a wealth of experience from playing more than 100 Tests for the Springboks.
“We all know about the massively difficult forward threat of Argentina. However, they are a clever side with skill and pace out wide so we will have to be alert on defence right until the final whistle,” said Erasmus.
Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handré Pollard, Faf de Klerk, Duane Vermeulen (captain), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Kwagga Smith, Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth, Trevor Nyakane, Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, RG Snyman, Francois Louw, Herschel Jantjies, Frans Steyn, Jesse Kriel.