Schalk Brits to captain much-changed Springboks

Date published: August 14 2019

Rassie Erasmus, the SA Rugby director of rugby, has unleashed a new-look team to take on the Pumas this weekend, packed with players looking to secure a place in South Africa’s Rugby World Cup squad.

Erasmus urged his team to make a strong statement on Saturday, when Schalk Brits will set a unique new record in South African rugby history, becoming the oldest player to captain the country for the first time.

Eighteen of the team featured in the Rugby Championship-winning campaign, but also included are five “newcomers” in the returning Siya Kolisi, Thomas du Toit, Wilco Louw, Marco van Staden and potential debutant Scarra Ntubeni.

Kolisi has been named in the starting XV for a cameo role as he continues his carefully managed rehabilitation from a knee injury, while the team is captained for the first time by Brits, who becomes the second oldest Springbok captain at 38 years and three months, and makes his first start in the green and gold since 2008.

The backline that helped overwhelm Australia at Ellis Park a month ago has been reunited with the exception of scrum-half, where Cobus Reinach gets an opportunity to start.

In the pack, it features a new front row, a mighty Bulls locking combination and a first start of the season for Marcell Coetzee, who is alongside Kolisi and Rynhardt Elstadt.

Vice-captain Elton Jantjies will take over the leadership role in the event of Brits being replaced – opening the way for a debut by Ntubeni. The DHL Stormers hooker toured with the Springboks in 2013 and 2014 but has had a long wait to pull on the jersey for the first time in a Test.

On the bench, they have gone for a 6-2 split with Faf de Klerk the reserve scrum-half and Frans Steyn covering all of fly-half, centre and full-back.

Season sensation Herschel Jantjies was slated to provide scrum-half cover but he was withdrawn on Tuesday following a blow to his head in training. It is not expected to affect his potential inclusion in the Rugby World Cup squad.

South Africa: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Schalk Brits (c), 1 Thomas du Toit
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Kwagga Smith, 22 Faf de Klerk, 23 Frans Steyn

Date: Saturday, August 17
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 17:05 local (16:05 BST, 15:05 GMT)
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland), Pierre Brousset (France)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)