Jacques Nienaber says the Springbok players have embraced the responsibility and pressure that come with the rare opportunity of clinching a series win over the British & Irish Lions.
With the series locked at 1-1, Nienaber named his team on Tuesday for the deciding third Test and said, while they’re expecting an epic battle, the Boks are ready to give everything to win at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
“This group of players are among a handful of players in the history of South African rugby that have an opportunity to clinch a series against the Lions after winning the Rugby World Cup, and every player in this squad understands what a rare honour that is,” said Nienaber.
“I don’t think one needs any more motivation than that to win this weekend. We are preparing for a physical encounter and we know that every small battle will count if we want to win the series.
“This match is as important to us as it is for the Lions, so we know it is going to be tight, and we will have to capitalise on every opportunity we have to score points, and be effective in every area of our game.
“As Springboks, big moments such as these excite us, so we plan to go out there and give everything we have to clinch the series.”
Nienaber made two changes to his starting team and one positional switch, mainly due to injuries to the influential Pieter-Steph du Toit (flank) and De Klerk (scrumhalf).
Franco Mostert moves from lock to blindside flank, with Lood de Jager coming into the second row. In the backline, Cobus Reinach slots in at scrumhalf.
Morne Steyn comes in to occupy the vacant spot on the bench, with Nienaber opting for a five-three substitute split in favour of the forwards.
Commenting on his selections, the Bok boss said: “This is a massive Test for us with the Castle Lager Lions Series on the line, so it was important for us to maintain consistency in selection following on last week’s performance.
“Pieter-Steph du Toit was ruled out due to the shoulder injury he suffered last week, but we are fortunate to have experienced players such as Franco and Lood who can step in and who have the physical presence we need in those roles.
“Cobus is also an experienced player with a calm head and who can handle pressure, and we believe he will be able to dictate play well alongside Handre Pollard, while Herschel Jantjies has been great in adding the necessary spark we need off the bench, and will be asked to fulfil that role again.
“I am delighted for Morne – he is a world-class player and his work ethic and positive attitude on and off the field since joining the team in Bloemfontein have been impressive,” he added.
“He can also perform under extreme pressure, as he’s shown for the Springboks and the Bulls, and that skill will be invaluable in such a vital Test.”
Mathieu Raynal (France) will referee the match, with Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand) and Nic Berry (Australia) serving as assistant referees, while Marius Jonker (South Africa) will be the television match official (TMO).
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