The majority of the Springbok squad was cleared to return to training on Monday after being in isolation the entire week. Whilst some big names such as Siya Kolisi, Makazole Mapimpi and Handre Pollard are missing from the training field, the SA "A" side named for Wednesdays clash with the Lions has a strong core to it and will be lead by World Cup winner Lukhanyo Am in the number 13 Jersey.
After the 2nd test against Georgia was cancelled, the Springboks are in a race against time to be adequately prepared for their three tests against the Lions, set to commence on the 24th of July. It is no surprise then that stand-in head coach, Rassie Erasmus has named such a strong side for Wednesday's clash. Going above this, Erasmus has pleaded for Saturdays scheduled fixture between the B & I Lions to be replaced with another SA "A" game.
The SA "A" game was set to be a fixture for the fringe players to get their chance against the tourists and to put their hands up for higher honors whilst the main test side would have played a limited role in the fixture, the opposite is now true. World Cup winners, Kitshoff, Nyakane, Etzebeth, Mostert, Du Toit, De Klerk, Nkosi, De Allende, Am, Kolbe and Le Roux all feature in the run on XV. They are backed up on the bench by the likes of Marx, Koch, Willemse, Smith and both Jantjies'.
The side features 674 test caps in total with 522 of them in the run on side against the Lions 1084 caps and 771. With this in mind, Wednesday's game has a shadow test feel to it and will most likely be the first time the B & I Lions face strong opposition and an organized defensive system. Lukhanyo Am gets his first taste of captaining the National side in the absence of club team mate, Kolisi. Am is a strong defender and has already held a leadership role within the squad, specifically as defensive captain in the key outside center birth.
A notable inclusion is Morne Steyn who takes charge at 10 when he faces the old enemy he began his career against, 12 years ago. First starts for Joseph Dweba and Jasper Wiese come in the pack as well as Marco van Staden. On the bench Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg is joined by Rynhardt Elstadt as inclusions outside of the previously assembled 2019 squad.
The Springboks will be hoping to see their team gel early on, especially in the backline as it is the first time most of the backs have linked up and pulled on the green and gold since the 2019 World Cup. The pack at least partially got a hit out against Georgia in the 1st test. Morne Steyn will bring some calm to the backline and his strong kicking game should help the team ease into the fixture. He is in great form and will be eager to carry that into his test return.
B & I Lions coach, Warren Gatland is strongly opposed to a second clash with the SA "A" side on Saturday and it now looks possible that the Springboks will face the Blue Bulls this weekend in an attempt to further their preparations for the tour.
Kick off: 20:00 SA
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