South Africa’s Erasmus names squad to face Argentina

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - JULY 23: Faf de Klerk and Kwagga Smith stretch during a Springboks training session at Porirua Park on July 23, 2019 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – JULY 27: The Springboks stand for the national anthem during the 2019 Rugby Championship Test Match between New Zealand and South Africa at Westpac Stadium on July 27, 2019 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

South Africa’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus named his team for Saturday’s Rugby Championship encounter against Argentina at the Estadio Martearena in Salta.

Tendai Mtawarira, Bongi Mbonambi and Trevor Nyakane will form a new front row in the only changes to the squad that drew 16-16 with New Zealand in Wellington last month.

Veteran forward Duane Vermeulen will captain the team, while Steven Kitshoff, 2017 South African Rugby Player of the Year Malcolm Marx & Frans Malherbe drop to the bench.

Mtawarira is set to equal Bryan Habana’s record of 53 appearances for the Springboks in the Rugby Championship as he wins his 110th Test cap.

“The Pumas are a very difficult team to play at home and they will be fired up for this one in front of their passionate crowd in Salta. This Test is a good opportunity for Bongi and Trevor to start next to ‘Beast’, who has a wealth of experience from playing more than 100 Tests for the Springboks,” Erasmus said.

Argentina and South Africa have played three times in Salta (2014, 2016 and 2017) with the visitors triumphing twice and the hosts once.

South Africa leads the Rugby Championship with 7 points, one ahead of defending champions New Zealand, and will be seeking a bonus-point win to secure the title.

The Springboks have never won the tournament since the Tri-Nations was revamped into The Rugby Championship in 2012. Their last Tri-Nations victory was in 2009.

South Africa starting XV: 15. Willie le Roux, 14. Cheslin Kolbe, 13. Lukhanyo Am, 12. Damian de Allende, 11. Makazole Mapimpi, 10. Handré Pollard, 9. Faf de Klerk, 8. Duane Vermeulen (c), 7. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6. Kwagga Smith, 5. Franco Mostert, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Trevor Nyakane, 2. Bongi Mbonambi, 1. Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16. Malcolm Marx, 17. Steven Kitshoff, 18. Frans Malherbe, 19. RG Snyman, 20. Francois Louw, 21. Herschel Jantjies, 22. Frans Steyn, 23. Jesse Kriel