Lions dominate Bok XV

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has picked seven Lions players in the starting lineup for Saturday's Test against France in Pretoria.

Among the group of seven, Andries Coetzee, Courtnall Skosan and Ross Cronjé are set to make their Test debuts, with Cronjé partnering up with Elton Jantjies as the 9-10 combination.

Up front, Lions skipper Warren Whiteley will lead the Boks for the first time from No 8, while Franco Mostert and Malcolm Marx will start in the tight five.

The match 23 has only seven survivors from the team that lost to Wales last November – Whiteley, Jantjies, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Franco Mostert, Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff and Beast Mtawarira.

'We have gone for settled combinations and selected players for the starting XV who have trained well with us,' said Coetzee. 'They are in good form so far this season and they will be battle-ready. It is a great opportunity for our uncapped players to cement their places in the team.

Coetzee said the team had prepared well in Pretoria, despite having Duane Vermeulen, Damian de Allende and Lionel Mapoe ruled out through injury.

'Duane is a world-class player and it’s a real pity he is out injured. However, I believe he needs rest after a long and very hard season in Europe. He has a few niggles and I am sure the time off will do him the world of good.

'I am excited about our loose-trio combination. Siya Kolisi has played at openside for the Springboks and the Stormers and I know he will be able to do the job for us. Oupa Mohoje has good ball-carrying abilities, he is an excellent lineout option and I think the combination will complement each other. On the bench we have a young and exciting player in Jean-Luc du Preez, whom I sure will make a big impact.

'The set piece will always be very important against any European side. However, our set piece was one of the positives in 2016 and I believe we will build on that.'

Springboks – 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
bs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Dillyn Leyds.

Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

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Craig Lewis