SARugbymag.co.za looks at seven players who will have something to prove when South Africa A takes on the British & Irish Lions in Cape Town on Wednesday.
With Siya Kolisi currently in self-isolation in Johannesburg, Am will lead the team out at Cape Town Stadium in his first experience of captaincy at an international level.
The 27-year-old has been very effective in his role as captain of the Sharks, leading the team to the top of the Super Rugby standings in 2020 and the Currie Cup final in 2021.
He now has the opportunity to put his hand up as a potential successor to Kolisi, should the current Springbok captain decide to step down from his role after the 2023 World Cup.
Of course, his job on Wednesday evening will be made all the easier, given that he is leading a team filled with experienced internationals like Faf de Klerk and Eben Etzebeth.
“The nice thing about Lukhanyo is that he doesn’t try to steal the show, he’ll always lean on those guys,” De Klerk said of Am’s captaincy. “He’s a great guy to have on the field, he is very calm … so if guys are going over the edge a bit he draws them back.”
Having last played for the Springboks in 2016, Steyn will make his return to the international fold when he starts at flyhalf for SA A, with Handre Pollard also among the players in quarantine in Johannesburg.
Steyn has been a revelation for the Bulls since returning to Loftus Versfeld from France, playing a major role in their Super Rugby Unlocked and Currie Cup success.
Against the Lions, he can show that he can still reproduce that form at an international level, as the strength of the two teams means that this is an unofficial Test match.
Steyn was famously a thorn in the Lions’ side when he slotted that dramatic 50-metre penalty in the third Test in 2009 and will join an exclusive group of players to face the Lions twice in their careers.
Nkosi has been handed a start on the left wing in the absence of fellow World Cup-winner Makazole Mapimpi.
The 25-year-old has scored eight tries in 11 Tests and has been an effective backup player for the Springboks, should Mapimpi or Cheslin Kolbe not be available for selection.
However, he has had a stop-start run with the Sharks since the World Cup, with his time on the field limited by niggling injuries.
Wednesday’s game presents Nkosi with a chance to provide a timely reminder of his ability and step out of the shadow of his two teammates.
Fresh from starring for the Leicester Tigers in the Premiership, Wiese will start for SA A after making his Test debut off the bench for the Springboks against Georgia.
Wiese broke through at the Cheetahs, but it was after moving to England with Leicester that he really garnered attention.
His performances earned him a call-up to the Springbok squad for the Lions series, with Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber saying the 25-year-old knocked the door down and couldn’t be ignored.
With the Springboks planning for a potential life after Duane Vermeulen, Wiese has a chance to show what he can do and put his hand up as a potential successor at No 8.
Another player who broke through at the Cheetahs, Dweba will be making his first appearance at this level, having previously played for the Junior Springboks and SA Schools.
The 25-year-old was in sensational form during his time in Bloemfontein and earned a move to France with Bordeaux.
However, he has struggled for regular starting time in the Top 14 and hasn’t quite replicated the same form he showed for the Cheetahs.
Still, he clearly has the quality to succeed at Test level and will want to show that in Wednesday’s match as the Boks look to deepen their depth at hooker.
Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg
Like Dweba, Janse van Rensburg will making his first appearance at an international level, should he be called off the bench.
Janse van Rensburg was arguably the bolter of the Springboks’ 46-man squad for the Lions series, with many surprised with his call-up ahead of the likes of Jason Jenkins and JD Schickerling (who was injured at the time the squad was named).
However, since moving in 2015 from the Bulls to Montpellier, then coached by Jake White, the 27-year-old has established himself as a key member of the team, helping them win the European Challenge Cup.
Wednesday’s game will give South Africans an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the undeniably talented lock forward.
Much like Steyn, Oosthuizen has returned to the international fold, having played his last Test match for the Springboks in 2017.
Despite playing regularly at tighthead prop for the Sale Sharks in England, Oosthuizen has been named as a loosehead replacement for Steven Kitshoff for Wednesday’s game.
The 32-year-old still boasts his old mobility and work rate that South Africans will be familiar with when he was playing for the Sharks and Cheetahs.
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