Johannesburg – Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber has included 12 of the 2019 Rugby World Cup final matchday squad for a match between South Africa A and the British and Irish Lions in Cape Town on Wednesday.
Nine are in the run-on team captained by centre Lukhanyo Am and three on the bench for a showdown Lions coach Warren Gatland says will be the “toughest encounter” so far on tour.
The South African backline contains five of the seven starters in the World Cup final triumph over England in Japan with only wing Makazole Mapimpi and fly-half Handre Pollard missing.
Inside centre Damian de Allende has been picked after recovering from facial, hand and leg burns sustained during an accident while with Munster teammates in Ireland last month.
Full-back Willie le Roux, wing Cheslin Kolbe, outside centre Am and scrum-half Faf de Klerk also started against England.
The South Africa A pack includes two World Cup final starters in lock Eben Etzebeth and flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit.
Nienaber is self-isolating in Johannesburg after testing positive for coronavirus and director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has taken over the coaching duties.
“Rassie has been hands on in our coaching and team selection meetings — he helped formulate our team structures and knows the players and coaching staff well,” said Nienaber.
“We may have lost our captain Siya (Kolisi), who is also self-isolated after a positive Covid-19 test, but there is a good leadership core within this group.
“The likes of Morne Steyn, Willie le Roux, Eben Etzebeth, Trevor Nyakane and Steven Kitshoff have experience that will be invaluable against a quality side like the British and Irish Lions.
“Joseph Dweba and Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg will get their first taste of running out in the green and gold at senior level and we look forward to seeing them showcase their skills.”
The Lions flew to Cape Town on Sunday having scored 27 tries in three runaway victories in Johannesburg and Pretoria over franchises weakened by the absence of stars on Springbok duty.
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