Handré Pollard will earn his 50th cap in the momentous opening Test between the Springboks and the British & Irish Lions at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday – the first of three internationals between the two sides in the Castle Lager Lions Series.
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber named a strong lineup led by Rugby World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi, with 21 players in the match-23 having featured in the Springboks’ triumphant campaign in Japan in 2019. Pollard was named as the vice-captain.
Kolisi, Makazole Mapimpi (wing) and Ox Nché were the last group of players to report for duty at the Springbok camp in Cape Town on Monday morning after completing their mandatory self-isolation in Johannesburg, and they were all cleared to return to the field on Monday afternoon following medical screening.
Nienaber was confident that all the players named in the side had the temperament and passion to give their all in this important Test.
The entire pack of forwards, the halfback pairing of Pollard and Faf de Klerk (scrumhalf) and Willie le Roux (fullback) started the Test against Georgia which the Springboks won 40-9 a little over two weeks ago, meaning the team will enter the match with some valuable game time and continuity in selection.
The changes to the starting XV that ran out against Georgia were on the wings where Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe will be on duty, and in the midfield, where Damian de Allende will partner up with Lukhanyo Am – the same combinations that ran out in the Rugby World Cup Final.
The only two changes among the replacements were at loose forward where Rynhardt Elstadt replaces Jasper Wiese and Lood de Jager takes over from Marvin Orie.
Springbok team to face the British & Irish Lions at Cape Town Stadium:15 – Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz) – 62 caps, 60 pts (12t)14 – Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse) – 14 caps, 40 pts (8t)13 – Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks) – 15 caps, 15 pts (3t)12 – Damian de Allende (Munster) – 47 caps, 30 pts (6t)11 – Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks) – 14 caps, 70 pts (14t)10 – Handré Pollard (vice-captain – Montpellier) – 49 caps, 465pts (6t, 78c, 89p, 4d)9 – Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks) – 30 caps, 20 pts (4t)8 – Kwagga Smith (Yamaha Júbilo) – 7 caps, 5 pts (1t)7 – Pieter-Steph du Toit (DHL Stormers) – 56 caps, 25 pts (5t)6 – Siya Kolisi (captain – Cell C Sharks) – 51 caps, 30 pts (6t)5 – Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) – 40 caps, 5pts (1t)4 – Eben Etzebeth (Toulon) – 86 caps, 15 pts (3t)3 – Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls) – 43 caps, 5 pts (1t)2 – Bongi Mbonambi (DHL Stormers) – 37 caps, 40 pts (8t)1 – Ox Nché (Cell C Sharks) – 2 caps, 0 pts
Replacements:16 – Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears) – 34 caps, 30 pts (6t)17 – Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers) – 48 caps, 5pts (1t)18 – Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers) – 39 caps, 5pts (1t)19 – Lood de Jager (Sale Sharks) – 45 caps, 25 pts (5t)20 – Rynhardt Elstadt (Toulouse) – 2 caps, 0 pts21 – Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers) – 11 caps, 25 pts (5t)22 – Elton Jantjies (Pau) – 38 caps, 283 pts (2t, 63c, 49p)23 – Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) – 7 caps, 5pts (1t