Munster Rugby's South African centre Damian de Allende
MUNSTER Rugby centre Damian de Allende has been included in the South African side to take on the British and Irish Lions in Saturday's first test.
World Cup winner De Allende will start the game, which kicks-off at 5pm Irish time at Cape Town Stadium, at inside centre.
Springbok coach and former Munster defence coach Jacques Nienaber named a strong lineup for Saturday's game led by Rugby World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi,.
Some 21 players in the match-23 featured in the Springboks’ triumphant World Cup campaign in Japan in 2019.
Kolisi, Makazole Mapimpi (wing) and Ox Nché were the last group of players to report for duty at the Springbok camp in Cape Town on Monday morning after completing their mandatory self-isolation in Johannesburg, and they were all cleared to return to the field on Monday afternoon following medical screening.
Nienaber was confident that all the players named in the side had the temperament and passion to give their all in this important Test.
Centre de Allende will partner up with Lukhanyo Am in the Springbok midfield – the same combinations that ran out in the Rugby World Cup Final.
“We have played three matches in the last few weeks with the Springboks facing Georgia and South Africa ‘A’ lining up against the British & Irish Lions and the Vodacom Bulls, and the first two matches in particular allowed us to settle a few player combinations that haven’t played since the Rugby World Cup final,” said Nienaber.
“We planned our team selections carefully, which is why it was important for us to play a third match after the second Test against Georgia was cancelled, and we know what the players we selected can do.
“The fact that most of the players participated in the Rugby World Cup means they know one another well on and off the field, and as coaches we know what they have to offer after having worked with most of them for several years.”
Nienaber allayed concerns that introducing players who had recovered from COVID-19 could place his team at a disadvantage as they prepare to face the best of the best in the northern hemisphere.
“Some of the players didn’t have COVID-19 symptoms at all, they have been managed according their individual needs, and they have really impressed me with their intensity and enthusiasm at training,” he said.
“The well-being of our players is of paramount importance, so we have been working closely with the medical team to work out what would be the best course of action for each player over the three-Test Series.”
Nienaber expected a brutal battle against the British and Irish tourists, who have matched their physicality with enterprising play by the backs so far on their tour to South Africa.
“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,” added the Bok coach.
Springbok team to face the British & Irish Lions at Cape Town Stadium:
15 – Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz) – 62 caps, 60 pts (12t)
14 – Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse) – 14 caps, 40 pts (8t)
13 – Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks) – 15 caps, 15 pts (3t)
12 – Damian de Allende (Munster) – 47 caps, 30 pts (6t)
11 – Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks) – 14 caps, 70 pts (14t)
10 – Handré Pollard (vice-captain – Montpellier) – 49 caps, 465pts (6t, 78c, 89p, 4d)
9 – Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks) – 30 caps, 20 pts (4t)
8 – Kwagga Smith (Yamaha Júbilo) – 7 caps, 5 pts (1t)
7 – Pieter-Steph du Toit (DHL Stormers) – 56 caps, 25 pts (5t)
6 – Siya Kolisi (captain – Cell C Sharks) – 51 caps, 30 pts (6t)
5 – Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) – 40 caps, 5pts (1t)
4 – Eben Etzebeth (Toulon) – 86 caps, 15 pts (3t)
3 – Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls) – 43 caps, 5 pts (1t)
2 – Bongi Mbonambi (DHL Stormers) – 37 caps, 40 pts (8t)
1 – Ox Nché (Cell C Sharks) – 2 caps, 0 pts
16 – Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears) – 34 caps, 30 pts (6t)
17 – Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers) – 48 caps, 5pts (1t)
18 – Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers) – 39 caps, 5pts (1t)
19 – Lood de Jager (Sale Sharks) – 45 caps, 25 pts (5t)
20 – Rynhardt Elstadt (Toulouse) – 2 caps, 0 pts
21 – Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers) – 11 caps, 25 pts (5t)
22 – Elton Jantjies (Pau) – 38 caps, 283 pts (2t, 63c, 49p)
23 – Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) – 7 caps, 5pts (1t)
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