Springboks set to start with seven new players in Wales test in Washington DC

Pieter-Steph du Toit (right) will captain an inexperienced Springboks side against Wales in Washington DC.


Pieter-Steph du Toit (right) will captain an inexperienced Springboks side against Wales in Washington DC.

Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus will give at least seven players their test debut under stand-in captain Pieter-Steph du Toit in the game against Wales in Washington DC.

Alongside the seven uncapped players listed to start, there are six uncapped players on the bench. In his first team selection on Wednesday (Thursday NZ Time) since taking over as coach in March, Erasmus also chose four players who have five or less test appearances.

Du Toit, with 32 caps, is the most experienced player.

The uncapped players to start in Erasmus’ experimental lineup in the United States on Saturday (Sunday NZT) are prop Ox Nche, lock Jason Jenkins, flanker Kwagga Smith, halfback Ivan van Zyl, centre Andre Esterhuizen and wings Makazole Mapimpi and Travis Ismaiel.

Although the team indicates Erasmus’ willingness to give new players a chance, many of his senior players, including new test captain Siya Kolisi, will sit out the Wales game and stay in South Africa to prepare instead for the three-test home series against England, starting on June 9.

After naming Kolisi as the Springboks’ first black test captain, Erasmus chose 11 non-white players in the matchday squad of 23 for the Wales test.

That’s significant for a sport and a team that was closely aligned to South Africa’s previous apartheid regime and has often been under scrutiny for the apparent dominance of white players even after apartheid ended.

Erasmus, a former Springboks player, has been tasked with restoring South Africa’s rugby reputation following two disastrous years under Allister Coetzee, who coached the Springboks to a string of humiliating defeats.

For Wales, Erasmus selected only three regulars from the Coetzee days – centre Jesse Kriel, first-five Elton Jantjies and second-rower du Toit.

However, South Africa will likely revert to a more experienced lineup in the first test against England in Johannesburg next weekend.

 – AP