Hooker Malcolm Marx will earn his 50th Test cap for the Springboks with scrumhalf Faf de Klerk returning to the starting XV for the opening clash of the Rugby Championship with the All Blacks on Saturday.
Marx will run out in place of Bongi Mbonambi, while De Klerk comes in at No 9 in a rotational switch with Jaden Hendrikse. The only injury enforced change is on the right wing, where Kurt-Lee Arendse will earn his second Test cap in place of Cheslin Kolbe, who is recovering from a broken jaw.
“One of the changes to the starting team were injury enforced with Kurt-Lee coming in for Cheslin and, with Malcolm, we feel it is a big occasion to play one’s 50th Test so it will be good for him to start, while we believe Faf’s experience and style of play will complement our game against the All Blacks,” said Jacques Nienaber.
“These changes resulted in direct swaps to the bench for Bongi and Jaden, and with Salmaan covering lock we can either use Franco [Mostert] at lock or flanker, and we have Kwagga [Smith] who can also provide cover in the loose trio and even on the wing if needs be.”
Both Mbonambi and Hendrikse will play off the replacements bench, where the only other change is the inclusion of lock Salmaan Moerat in place of loose forward Elrigh Louw.
Nienaber added: “We played two Tests with a similar team in the series against Wales, and we feel this is the right squad for this specific challenge against New Zealand.
“The All Blacks are strong all around and they will come to Nelspruit desperate to avenge their series defeat against Ireland and to prove that they remain one of the powerhouses in world rugby, so we believe experience and physicality will be vital in this Test.”
Springboks – 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Franco Mostert, 21 Kwagga Smith, 22 Jaden Hendrikse, 23 Willie le Roux.