According to South Africa Coach Jacques Nienaber, despite the hype surrounding the Springboks-Ireland matchup, Scotland’s recent victory over highly regarded France ensures that SA’s complete attention is on Sunday’s match.
For South Africa’s opening match of their Rugby World Cup title defense against Scotland this weekend, Cheslin Kolbe and Kurt-Lee Arendse will play on the wings, and Damian Willemse will start at fullback in place of Willie le Roux.
Kolbe was one of four changes made on Wednesday to the starting lineup that destroyed New Zealand by a record 35-7 at Twickenham two weeks ago. Kolbe was recalled to the left wing for Sunday’s Pool B match in Marseille.
Jasper Wiese started as No. 8 instead of veteran Duane Vermeulen, who was previously on the bench with Le Roux. Andre Esterhuizen and Canan Moodie are replaced in the starting lineup by the centers Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel.
The 20-year-old Moodie, who was expected to play outside center, was ruled out due to a twinge in his hamstring, according to the Springboks.
Nienaber announced his team two days in advance and remarked, “By getting it out of the way we can just focus on preparing for Scotland.”
In the forward pack, where the other seven starters participated in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final, Wiese is the lone change. Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert are once more seated together in the second row.
After recovering from knee surgery, captain Siya Kolisi starts his third straight game for South Africa in their victories over Wales and the All Blacks in the pregame.
The Boks chose a reserve lineup of six forwards and two backs rather than the unusual 7-1 that caused controversy against New Zealand at Twickenham.
Faf de Klerk, the scrumhalf, will play in his 50th test against the Scots in Marseille. He teams up with Manie Libbok, the preferred No. 10 for South Africa after Handre Pollard was unable to make the team due to injury.
On Sunday, Nienaber remarked, “We need to be sharp on attack and defense because Scotland is a quality team with a strong pack and skillful backs, and they play with a lot of intensity.”
Wing Makazole Mapimpi, who scored a try in the victory against England in the World Cup final four years ago, didn’t make the 23-man team, and his absence stood out as the biggest disappointment.
However, Nienaber and South Africa’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus frequently altered their starting lineup in the lead-up and are anticipated to do the same in a challenging pool in which the Boks will also play Romania, the top-ranked Ireland, and Tonga.
2019’s Springboks World Cup victory was led by Erasmus, who was assisted by Nienaber.
All the teams have improved since 2019, but Nienaber noted that World Cups are rather different. “In 2019, you could slog it out with a good defense, a decent kicking game, and a solid set-piece, whereas in 2019, you must have the ability to score points. We needed to adjust. Although I don’t think we’re quite there yet, we are making progress.