SOUTH AFRICA will be without two key players for Saturday’s series decider against the Lions with Pieter-Steph du Toit and Faf de Klerk missing out through injury.
Du Toit, who was World Rugby Player of the Year in 2019, picks up a knock to the shoulder in the second Test last weekend, so Franco Mostert moves from lock to the side of the scrum, while Lood de Jager is promoted from the bench to the starting team alongside Eben Etzebeth in the second row. Cobus Reinach replaces De Klerk.
Damian de Allende will become the third Springbok to reach the career milestone of 50 Test caps in the series on Saturday, while Morné Steyn is set to his earn his first Test cap since 2016 off the bench, and should he take the field then it would add him to the select group of Springboks to have played back-to-back Lions series. He kicked the penalty goal that sealed the series victory in 2009.
Head coach Jacques Nienaber has opted to name three backs on the bench, with Steyn (fly-half) joining Herschel Jantjies (scrum-half) and Damian Willemse (utility back).
No 8 Duane Vermeulen, who joined the squad on Sunday for the first time since surgery on his ankle several weeks ago, won’t be involved.
“This is a massive Test for us with the Castle Lager Lions Series on the line, so it was important for us to maintain consistency in selection following on last week’s performance,” said Nienaber.
“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.
“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.
“This group of players are among a handful of players in the history of South African rugby that have an opportunity to clinch a series against the Lions after winning the Rugby World Cup, and every player in this squad understands what a rare honour that is,” he added.
“I don’t think one needs any more motivation than that to win this weekend. We are preparing for a physical encounter and we know that every small battle will count if we want to win the series.
“This match is as important to us as it is for the Lions, so we know it is going to be tight, and we will have to capitalise on every opportunity we have to score points, and be effective in every area of our game.
“As Springboks, big moments such as these excite us, so we plan to go out there and give everything we have to clinch the Series.”
South Africa (v British & Irish Lions in the Third Test @ Cape Town Stadium, Saturday 5pm BST): W le Roux; C Kolbe, L Am, D Allende, M Mapimpi; H Pollard, C Reinach; S Kitshoff, B Mbonambi, F Malherbe, E Etzebeth, L de Jager, S Kolisi (C), F Mostert, J Wiese.
Substitutes: M Marx, T Nyakane, V Koch, M v Staden, K Smith, H Jantjies, M Steyn, D Willemse.