South Africa made 10 changes to their side to kick-off the Rugby Championship against Argentina in Nelson Mandela Bay on Saturday, with hooker Joseph Dweba to debut and players who did not feature against the British & Irish Lions given a run.
Coach Jacques Nienaber says they do not mean to disrespect Argentina with the changes from the team that won the Lions series 2-1.
But with five Test matches on consecutive weekends, there is a concern over player welfare after the Springboks did not play for 20 months following their 2019 World Cup triumph.
“It is a long season, so it’s important that we manage the players well and rotate our squad to ensure that everyone gets sufficient game time and rest,” Nienaber said.
“We have a talented squad, and we are excited to see some of the players get a chance to show what they can do against a tough Argentinean outfit.
“Joseph is hard worker and a mobile hooker, which will be valuable traits against a physical side such as Argentina.”
Elton Jantjies has taken over at flyhalf, with the hero from Saturday’s 19-16 win over the Lions, Morne Steyn, among the replacements. Cobus Reinach has retained his place at scrumhalf.
Jesse Kriel and Frans Steyn make up the centre-pairing, while the back three contain wings Sbu Nkosi and Aphelele Fassi, and fullback Damian Willemse.
It is all change in the front row of the scrum with Dweba and props Wilco Louw and Ox Nche, but the locks are the same with Lood de Jager and Eben Etzebeth to feature.
The back row is made up of captain Siya Kolisi, fellow flank Kwagga Smith and number eight Jasper Wiese.
Nienaber confirmed that key loose-forward Pieter-Steph du Toit will be out “for some time” after undergoing shoulder surgery following an injury picked up in the second Lions test.
The coach also responded to accusations that his team played ‘boring’ rugby during the Lions series, with New Zealand coach Ian Foster suggesting the second test put him to sleep with the forward-dominated kicking game that both teams employed.
Nienaber said: “That’s the beauty of rugby, there’s different ways to play and distinctive styles. It would be unbelievably boring if everybody played the same way.
“Take the World Cup for instance, we played probably the most attacking team [Japan] in the quarter-finals and then you had to change the whole mentality against a team [Wales in the semi-finals] that played a massive kicking game that meant you had to make plans to outsmart them.
“I don’t think there is one specific style (that has to be played), it is determined by the players you have.
“New Zealand will have certain athletic attributes and will create a game-plan to amplify those special characteristics. We will have a different (type of) player and will look to amplify our athletic abilities. Playing styles differ because the athletes differ.”
15-Damian Willemse, 14-Sbu Nkosi, 13-Jesse Kriel, 12-Frans Steyn, 11-Aphelele Fassi, 10-Elton Jantjies, 9-Cobus Reinach, 8-Jasper Wiese, 7-Kwagga Smith, 6-Siya Kolisi (captain), 5-Lood de Jager, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Wilco Louw, 2-Joseph Dweba, 1-Ox Nche
16-Malcolm Marx, 17-Trevor Nyakane, 18-Vincent Koch, 19-Marvin Orie, 20-Marco van Staden, 21-Dan du Preez, 22-Herschel Jantjies, 23-Morne Steyn.