Springboks change all 15 for RWC warmup vs. Argentina
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — South Africa has changed all 15 starters for its Rugby World Cup warmup test against Argentina, including the recall of captain Siya Kolisi for his first international this season after injury.
Kolisi returned at openside flanker in the team named on Wednesday but is not captain for Saturday’s game in Pretoria as he concentrates on proving his fitness before South Africa starts the World Cup in Japan next month against two-time defending champion New Zealand.
Kolisi was out for two months with a knee injury before returning to action with his provincial team last week.
Hooker Schalk Brits will lead South Africa against Argentina. The team also includes Europe-based players Vincent Koch at prop, Marcell Coetzee at No. 8, and Cobus Reinach at scrumhalf.
The Springboks beat Argentina in Argentina last weekend to clinch the Rugby Championship and their first southern hemisphere title in 10 years, a big boost for the World Cup campaign.
With the exception of Reinach, coach Rassie Erasmus reunited the backline that played in the Boks’ opening game of the Rugby Championship against Australia in Johannesburg, with Elton Jantjies back in the No. 10 jersey.
The changes enable Erasmus to rest first-choice players and try out other options for the makeup of his World Cup squad.
One of those is Coetzee, the loose forward who was a regular for the Springboks before leaving South Africa to play in Ireland in 2016.
The South Africa team did have some unexpected news on Wednesday when attack consultant Swys de Bruin asked to be released from his role. SA Rugby said de Bruin was quitting for “personal and medical reasons.”
De Bruin is the head coach of the Lions Super Rugby team and took a brief break from that job this year because of a stress-related illness.