JOHANNESBURG, South Africa- South Africa have changed three of the team that started a draw with Australia last weekend for the Rugby Championship final-round Test against New Zealand in Cape Town on Saturday.
All the alterations are in the pack with prop Steven Kitshoff, lock Lood de Jager and loose forward Pieter-Steph du Toit replacing Tendai Mtawarira, Franco Mostert and Uzair Cassiem.
The All Blacks trounced the Springboks 57-0 in Auckland during September and clinched the Rugby Championship with two matches to spare last weekend.
An unexplained “family reason” ruled out Zimbabwe-born loose head Mtawarira, popularly known as “The Beast”, who was set to win a record-extending 96th cap by a Springbok prop.
Kitshoff, back at the Cape Town-based Western Stormers after a spell with French outfit Bordeaux-Begles, gets his first Test start after 18 appearances off the bench.
Mostert has been less effective as the season progresses, which probably explains his demotion to the bench with De Jager elevated after not even being a replacement last weekend.
A rib injury that will sideline Cassiem for about six weeks triggered personnel and positional back-row shuffling.
Francois Louw from English Premiership Club Bath moves to number eight having operated in his traditional flanker role in the 27-27 stalemate against the Wallabies in Bloemfontein.
Du Toit, a lock previously found wanting when switched to the back row, gets another chance to impress as a flanker.
There are two changes to the bench for the sell-out Test at the 52,000-seat Newlands stadium with uncapped prop Wilco Louw coming in for Kitshoff and Mostert replacing Du Toit.
“It is a well-deserved starting opportunity for Steven Kitshoff,” coach Allister Coetzee said after the team announcement in Cape Town.
“He has been working extremely hard during the last two seasons and fully deserves his chance.
“Francois Louw is a seasoned openside flanker and although it is his first Test start in the number eight shirt, he has a good understanding of the role we expect from him.
“I believe his vast experience will see him settle in quickly and Jean-Luc du Preez will again provide good impact off the bench.”
Andries Coetzee; Dillyn Leyds, Jesse Kriel, Jan Serfontein, Courtnall Skosan; Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronje; Francois Louw, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi; Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth (capt); Ruan Dreyer, Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Trevor Nyakane, Wilco Louw, Franco Mostert, Jean-Luc du Preez, Rudy Paige, Handre Pollard, Damian de Allende