Springboks: 50 up for Frans Malherbe as Duane Vermeulen returns for New Zealand rematch

Frans Malherbe will earn his 50th cap for the Springboks, who have made five changes for their clash with the All Blacks at Ellis Park on Saturday.

Veteran Duane Vermeulen returns to the starting line-up after recovering from knee surgery and is joined by captain Siya Kolisi and the tireless Pieter-Steph du Toit in the loose trio.

Two changes in the front-row

In the second-row, Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager continue their partnership while Ox Nche and Bongi Mbonambi make returns to a new-look front-row that Malherbe completes.

Scrum-half Jaden Hendrikse starts after a good showing last week alongside Handre Pollard, who looked in decent form in Nelspruit.

The tried-and-tested centre partnership of Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am continues as Jesse Kriel starts on the wing alongside Makazole Mapimpi and Damian Willemse in the back-three.

On the bench, Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx and Vincent Koch reunite as the front-row options, with Franco Mostert, Jasper Wiese and Kwagga Smith the remaining forward options.

The two backs on the bench are Herschel Jantjies and Willie le Roux, the latter of which scored late on in Nelspruit.

Calling on experience

Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber is happy to call on experienced players to slot into various roles in the system.

“We made a few changes to the team, but Duane, Jesse and Herschel are all experienced players who know our systems well and have been stalwarts for the Boks,” said Nienaber.

“Ox has also shown his ability to make his presence felt in the front row, so he is back in the mix.”

Nienaber is delighted to have Vermuelen back from injury but also commended Wiese for his contributions of late.

“Duane has a massive presence on the field and there is no bigger game for him to make his comeback from injury than facing the All Blacks,” said Nienaber.

“He is an enforcer on attack and defence and we know he will give everything against a physical All Blacks team that are desperate to bounce back strongly from a challenging run of results.

“Jasper is also a warrior, and we know that he will have an equally strong presence when he takes the field.

“Jesse has played over 50 Tests, and he has been waiting in the wings for his chance. He’s played wing for us before, so we know what he can bring to the game, and we are also excited to welcome back Herschel, who has played an immense role to help prepare the playing squad for the last two Tests.”

Milestone Malherbe

Nienaber commended Malherbe for his milestone and hopes to mark the occasion with a win against the old foe.

“We are very proud of Frans, and it is up to the team to make it a memorable occasion for him by giving their all to register a victory,” he added.

“Frans’ work ethic is fantastic and although he is quiet off the field, he certainly makes his presence felt on the field.”

The coach expects New Zealand to be desperate to turn things around at Ellis Park and knows it will be a challenging clash.

“New Zealand are similar to the Springboks in the sense that they do not give up,” said Nienaber.

“They fought until the end against us at the Mbombela Stadium last week and we expect nothing less from them on Saturday.

“They have quality players within their ranks and given the rich history between the sides in Johannesburg and their desperation to turn things around after a few disappointing results, we know we are in for a massive challenge this weekend.

“Our focus, however, is on improving our game and ensuring that we build on our form from last week. We had an honest assessment of our performance last week, and while there were several positives, there are areas that we need to make a step-up in, and it will be vital to get that right before we travel to Australia and Argentina for the away leg of the tournament, so this is a vital match for us.”

South Africa: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Jesse Kriel, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Kwagga Smith, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Willie le Roux

Date: Saturday, August 13
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 17:05 local (16:05 BST, 15:05 GMT)
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant Referees: Angus Gardner (Australia) , Christophe Ridley (England)
TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia)

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