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Kolisi back as captain as Springboks name team for opening Test of Lions series

South Africa have named the same backline that started the 2019 World Cup final.

Springboks captain Siya Kolisi.
Springboks captain Siya Kolisi.
Image: Ashley Western

JACQUES NIENABER HAS named a strong Springboks team for Saturday’s first Test against the British & Irish Lions at the Cape Town Stadium [KO 5pm, Sky Sports Main Event].

The Springboks have suffered a disrupted run-in to the Test series, seeing some warm-up games cancelled and having a number of players forced to self-isolate due to Covid-19.

However the Boks are close to full strength in time for the opening game of the Test series, with the entire backline that started the 2019 World Cup final win over England named to start in Cape Town.

Willie le Roux lines out at full-back, with superstar wingers Cheslin Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi – who has not featured in any of the Boks’ warm-up games – completing the back three.

Munster’s Damien de Allende and Lukhanyo Am of the Sharks start in midfield, with the familiar pairing of Handré Pollard – who is set to win his 50th cap for South Africa – and Faf de Klerk continuing in the half-backs.

Loosehead Ox Nché is named to earn just his third cap, with Bongi Mbonambi and Trevor Nyakane completing the front-row. Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert line out in the second row.

Kolisi, who was a doubt for the opening Test after testing positive for Covid, captains the side in the number six shirt, with Pieter-Steph du Toit named at seven and Kwagga Smith a surprise selection at number eight.

The Boks have also named a powerful looking bench for the game, but have opted against the 6/2 split favoured during the 2019 World Cup.

“The forward battle is going to be as tough as it gets, so it’s important that we pitch up physically and ensure that we make our presence felt in the set pieces and at the contact points,” Nienaber said.

“This, combined with their hard-running backs, will test our defensive system, but we have been looking forward to these matches since the Rugby World Cup concluded and we have done our homework, so it is a case of doing everything at 100% and sticking to our structures.”

South Africa (v British & Irish Lions)

15: Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz, 62 caps) 

14: Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse, 14 caps)

13: Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks, 15 caps)

12: Damian de Allende (Munster, 47 caps)

11: Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks, 14 caps) 

10: Handré Pollard (Montpellier, 49 caps)

9: Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks, 30 caps)

1: Ox Nché (Cell C Sharks, 2 caps) 

2: Bongi Mbonambi (DHL Stormers, 37 caps) 

3: Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls, 43 caps) 

4: Eben Etzebeth (Toulon, 86 caps) 

5: Franco Mostert (Honda Heat, 40 caps) 

6: Siya Kolisi (Cell C Sharks, 51 caps) – captain

7: Pieter-Steph du Toit (DHL Stormers, 56 caps) 

8: Kwagga Smith (Yamaha Júbilo, 7 caps)

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Replacements:

16: Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears, 34 caps) 

17: Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers, 48 caps)

18: Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers, 39 caps)

19: Lood de Jager (Sale Sharks, 45 caps) 

20: Rynhardt Elstadt (Toulouse, 2 caps)

21: Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers, 11 caps) 

22: Elton Jantjies (Pau, 38 caps) 

23: Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers, 7 caps) 

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Ciarán Kennedy

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