Springboks make six changes for must-win game against Italy

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TOYOTA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 28: Jacques Nienaber (Defence Coach) of South Africa chats to the players during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Pool B match between South Africa and Namibia at City of Toyota Stadium on September 28, 2019 in Toyota, Japan. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
TOYOTA, JAPAN – SEPTEMBER 28: Makazole Mapimpi of South Africa celebrates with teammates after scoring his side’s seventh try during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Group B game between South Africa and Namibia at City of Toyota Stadium on September 28, 2019 in Toyota, Aichi, Japan. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Tendai Mtawarira, Bongo Mbonambi, Lood de Jager, Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am are the only players retained in South Africa’s starting XV for Friday’s must-win Pool B match against Italy at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

In all, South Africa’s rugby coach Rassie Erasmus made six changes to the side that started in the 57-3 win against Namibia at the Toyota Stadium on Saturday.

Of particular interest in the latest 23-man squad is the fact that Erasmus has named six forwards on the bench and only two backs.

Erasmus noted that South Africa wants to have plenty of ammunition for what is likely to be a major forward battle.

“This game is going to be decided by the forwards and at the set phases and we wanted to maximise our options in those battles,” Erasmus said.

Regular captain Siya Kolisi is also restored to the starting lineup having been on the bench for the ‘African derby’.

Handré Pollard, who will start at fly-half, is on the cusp of a couple of milestones. Pollard needs four points to reach 400 career points in Test matches. He also needs 11 points to overhaul Percy Montgomery’s Springbok record of 111 points at Rugby World Cups.

South Africa has won 13 of the 14 matches it has played against Italy. However, this will be the first ever encounter between the two sides at a Rugby World Cup.

Italy currently leads Pool B with 10 points while South Africa is second with five points.

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