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Dublin: 21°C Sunday 13 June 2021

Kolisi keeps captaincy as Rassie welcomes Etzebeth and Whitely back for 'Boks

Handre Pollard returns to the number 10 shirt as South Africa open the Rugby Championship against Argentina.

Rassie speaks with Siya Kolisi ahead of the England series this summer.
Rassie speaks with Siya Kolisi ahead of the England series this summer.
Image: Dino Lloyd

SOUTH AFRICA HAVE recalled forwards Eben Etzebeth and Warren Whiteley after long injury absences for their Rugby Championship opener against Argentina in Durban on Saturday (Sky Sports, 15.30).

Lock Etzebeth last played for the Springboks nine months ago against Wales and missed the entire Super Rugby season due to shoulder and back injuries.

The absence of number eight Whiteley with various injuries stretches even further back — to June last year when he was a late withdrawal from a Test against France.

Whiteley did, however, captain eventual runners-up the Golden Lions in the closing stages of the recently-ended Super Rugby campaign.

Head coach Rassie Erasmus dismissed fears that Etzebeth would be rusty for the clash with the Pumas at Kings Park stadium.

“Eben is ready to go,” he stressed. “He is fit and strong and has been functional for a while at our training camp.”

Hooker Malcolm Marx, another forward who missed the 2-1 series win over England two months ago through injury, is also recalled for the first-round Test. A fourth personnel change among the forwards from the team beaten by England in a dead-rubber sees veteran Francois Louw drafted into the back row.

SUPER RUGBY REDS LIONS Marx in action against the Reds. Source: AAP/PA Images

Siya Kolisi – who became South Africa’s first black captain and has retained that role despite the return of predecessors Etzebeth and Whitely – moves from the open side to the blind side in the back row.

Inside centre Andre Esterhuizen, winger Aphiwe Dyantyi and scrum-half Faf de Klerk keep their places from the backline that failed to sparkle when losing to England.  Outside centre Jesse Kriel and fly-half Elton Jantjies have been dropped from the matchday 23 with Lukhanyo Am and Handre Pollard coming into the team.

While there are no new caps in the starting line-up, fly-half Damian Willemse and flanker Marco van Staden are poised to make Test debuts off the bench.

Argentina meanwhile, have relaxed the policy of choosing only home-based players with Saracens prop Juan Figallo selected to start.

He is one of three changes to the pack that started in a 44-15 drubbing from Scotland in Resistencia. He replaces loosehead Juan Diaz with Chaparro switching sides and Marcos Kremer and Javier Ortega Desio come into the back row for Tomas Lezana and Leonardo Senatore.

South Africa: Willie le Roux; Makazole Mapimpi, Lukhanyo Am, Andre Esterhuizen, Aphiwe Dyantyi; Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk;  Tendai Mtawarira, Malcolm Marx, Frans Malherbe; Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit; Siya Kolisi (capt), Francois Louw, Warren Whiteley.

Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff, Thomas du Toit, Marvin Orie, Marco van Staden, Embrose Papier, Lionel Mapoe, Damian Willemse.

Argentina: Emiliano Boffelli; Bautista Delguy, Matias Moroni, Bautista Ezcurra, Ramiro Moyano; Nicolas Sanchez, Gonzalo Bertranou;  Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Agustin Creevy (capt), Juan Figallo; Guido Petti, Matias Alemanno; Pablo Matera, Marcos Kremer, Javier Ortega Desio.

Replacements: Diego Fortuny, Santiago Garcia Botta, Santiago Medrano, Tomas Lavanini, Tomas Lezana, Martin Landajo, Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, Juan Cruz Mallia.

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