Jacques Nienaber is taking no chances as the Springbok coach has reverted to a tried-and-tested lineup for the series decider against Wales in Cape Town on Saturday.
Nienaber made 11 changes to the starting XV that lost 13-12 to Wales in Bloemfontein last week as lock Eben Etzebeth earns his 100th Test cap and hooker Bongi Mbonambi his 50th.
Etzebeth, who made his international debut in June 2012 against England, will become the seventh – and youngest – player to reach the significant career milestone, following in the footsteps of Victor Matfield, Bryan Habana, Tendai Mtawarira, John Smit, Jean de Villiers and Percy Montgomery.
Nienaber named a new-look backline featuring the versatile Damian Willemse at fullback, with Cheslin Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi back on the wings, while the regular centre pairing of Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am will again partner up in the midfield.
Nienaber has recalled the core members who helped beat Wales in a nail-biting victory in the opening game at Loftus Versfeld sans veteran flyhalf Elton Jantjies, who has gone from first-Test starter to completely out of the match-day 23.
The Bok coach retained the halfback pairing of last week’s stand-in skipper Handre Pollard and Jaden Hendrikse, while Siya Kolisi reclaims the captaincy in the loose trio with blindside flank Pieter-Steph du Toit and No 8 Jasper Wiese.
In other changes up front, Lood de Jager pairs up with Etzebeth in the second row, while Nienaber named a new front row of Trevor Nyakane and Frans Malherbe either side of Mbonambi, who made his debut off the bench against Ireland in June 2016 and will become the 45th Bok to reach a half-century of Test caps.
There were an array of changes among the replacements, which again features a six-two split with forwards Steven Kitshoff, Franco Mostert, Kwagga Smith and Elrigh Louw featuring alongside scrumhalf Faf de Klerk and utility back Willie le Roux.
“We are very proud of Eben and Bongi for their achievements, although it would be remiss of us as a team for that to outshadow the fact that we need to win on Saturday to seal the series against Wales,” said Nienaber.
“Wales have shown over the years and in the last two matches that they are real fighters, and it will require a top-class performance from us on Saturday to register a victory and ultimately clinch the series.
“That said, Eben and Bongi have been true stalwarts to Springbok rugby, and we hope that we can make this a special occasion for them. No one wants to remember losing their 100th or 50th Test, so we need to do everything we can to win the match.”
Springboks – 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Subs: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Elrigh Louw, 22 Faf de Klerk, 23 Willie le Roux.