Damian de Allende will become the third Springbok in the Castle Lager Lions Series to reach the career milestone of 50 Test caps in Saturday’s decider in Cape Town, where Morné Steyn could earn his first Test cap since 2016.
Franco Mostert’s incredible workrate earned him the right to start the third and deciding test against the British and Irish Lions in Cape Town on Saturday.
The Boks made two changes to the starting line-up, and went away from their bomb squad six-two formation on the bench, bringing in veteran Morne Steyn to the match-day 23.
Bok colossus Duane Vermeulen, who joined the team on Sunday, couldn’t pass a fitness test to return in time for the series, which means Jasper Wiese continues at No 8, but is likely Vermeulen will be in the squad to face Argentina in a week’s time.
Pieter-Steph du Toit – the World Rugby 2019 Player of the year and talismanic flank, and the mercurial Faf de Klerk – both miss out because of injuries.
Du Toit injured his shoulder when Duhan van der Merwe lifted him above the horizontal and drove him downwards in a debatable tackle that was missed by the match officials.
De Klerk injured his hip it seems as he was kicking one of his box kicks during the game.
While De Klerk has been replaced by Cobus Reinach in an interesting and shrewd move by the management, Du Toit’s place is filled by Franco Mostert, who moved to flank in the second test and has played there before for both the Lions and his Japanese club Honda Heat.
Lood de Jager’s second half appearance was inspirational, and it isn’t any surprise he gets his name in the starting spot, while Mostert’s workrate is unparalleled and will at least cushion the blow of losing Du Toit for the final test a little bit.
It also gives the Boks some interesting lineout options in the first half, but by contrast their bench lineout options look a bit thin in the second.
Reinach’s elevation to the starting line-up is sure to be a talking point, especially as he wasn’t on the bench, but his experience against European sides probably tipped the scales for him.
While Jantjies was possibly lucky on form to get the nod on the bench ahead of him, the Boks will have their tactical reasons why he gets the starting spot ahead of the Stormers halfback.
In partnering Pollard, he reforms the club combination the two have at French club Montpellier.
On the bench the Boks bomb squad – the 6-2 split – is no more as Steyn enters and the rest has a very different look about it, with the selectors deciding to keep both Marco van Staden and Kwagga Smith to play to the ball.
But it does beg the question what the substitution tactics will be and if the Boks are steeling themselves for a more open game, especially in the second half with the Lions looking to throw the kitchen sink at them.
It may be that the Boks don’t really feel they need more lineout options, or it may be they feel the game will shift to the breakdown being the key aspect when the second half comes along.
Smith and Wiese can both jump in the lineouts but neither has the height that is normally associated with the bomb squad bench so this will be interesting to watch.
Other than that the Boks have kept the same front row combination that worked so well in the second test, with Trevor Nyakane set for another loosehead cameo role.
SPRINGBOKS: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi; Handre Pollard, Cobus Reinach; Jasper Wiese, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi (captain), Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Trevor Nyakane, Vincent Koch, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Herschel Jantjies, Morne Steyn, Damian Willemse.