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August 18, 2017

TRC Rd#1: Springbok Team v Los Pumas

TRC Rd#1: Springbok Team v Los Pumas

Uzair Cassiem will start at No 8 for the Springboks in the opening match of The Rugby Championship at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

The Toyota Cheetahs loose forward comes into the starting line-up for only his second Test after he made his international debut in November 2016 against Wales in Cardiff, with Jean-Luc du Preez moving to the bench.

The other change in the pack that started the third Test against France in Johannesburg in June, sees the inclusion of experienced tighthead prop Coenie Oosthuizen in place of Ruan Dreyer.

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee made only one change to the backline, with scrumhalf Ross Cronje resuming the No 9 duties from Francois Hougaard.

Hougaard and Du Preez are joined on the bench by experienced prop Trevor Nyakane, as well as Curwin Bosch, the promising young Cell C Sharks and Junior Springbok flyhalf, who will make his Springbok debut should he run onto the field on Saturday.

“Uzair is a very versatile loose forward and the added advantage is that he is also an excellent option in the lineout,” explained Coetzee.

“Coenie has played consistently well this season for the Cell C Sharks and he performed well for us whenever he came off the bench in the French series, while Trevor has worked extremely hard and deserves his opportunity.”

Coetzee said that Bosch had slotted well into the Springbok environment during his stay of almost two weeks with the squad in Port Elizabeth. The youngster also attended the Boks’ pre-season training camp in April.

“Curwin is a young player with huge potential and a bright future ahead of him,” said Coetzee.

“He showed in the very tough Vodacom Super Rugby competition that he is a skilful player and a prolific goal kicker and he covers both fullback and flyhalf.

“He can be very proud of his inclusion in the match day squad as he matriculated from Grey Port Elizabeth just two years ago.”

According to the Springbok coach, the Boks are well prepared for the opening fixture against the Pumas: “We are pleased with our preparations and we expect another huge contest from Argentina, a very proud rugby nation.

“They are excellent in their set pieces, and have a number of world class players in this team. Their biggest threat is that they strike from first phase, hard at the breakdown, looking to turn ball over and get into general attack,” explained Coetzee.

Experienced Springbok Tendai Mtawarira is set to play in a record 30th consecutive Castle Lager Rugby Championship match, surpassing the record held by wing Bryan Habana. “Beast” will also extend his record as the most-capped Springbok prop to 91 Tests.

Saturday’s fixture at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium is match number 100 for South Africa in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship since the inaugural Tri-Nations match against Australia on 13 July, 1996. The match is also the tenth meeting between the Springboks and the Pumas since the Argentinians joined the competition in 2012.

The Springboks are unbeaten at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, with three wins and a draw dating back to 2011 at the state-of-the-art venue.

15. Andries Coetzee (Emirates Lions), 3 caps
14. Raymond Rhule (Toyota Cheetahs), 3 caps
13. Jesse Kriel (Vodacom Bulls), 19 caps
12. Jan Serfontein (Vodacom Bulls), 29 caps
11. Courtnall Skosan (Emirates Lions), 3 caps
10. Elton Jantjies (Emirates Lions), 14 caps
9. Ross Cronje (Emirates Lions), 2 caps
8. Uzair Cassiem (Toyota Cheetahs) 1 cap
7. Jaco Kriel (Emirates Lions), 8 caps
6. Siya Kolisi (DHL Stormers), 19 caps
5. Franco Mostert (Emirates Lions), 9 caps
4. Eben Etzebeth (captain, DHL Stormers), 57 caps [Captain]
3. Coenie Oosthuizen (Cell C Sharks), 26
2. Malcolm Marx (Emirates Lions), 5 caps
1. Tendai Mtawarira (Cell C Sharks), 90 caps

16. Bongi Mbonambi (DHL Stormers), 8 caps
17. Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers), 13 caps
18. Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls), 28 caps
19. Pieter-Steph du Toit (DHL Stormers), 23 caps
20. Jean-Luc du Preez (Cell C Sharks), 4 caps
21. Francois Hougaard (Worcester Warriors, England), 42 caps
22. Curwin Bosch (Cell C Sharks), uncapped
23. Damian de Allende (DHL Stormers), 22 caps

Stats and milestones:

Tendai Mtawarira will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok prop to 91 caps in this position. He is the third most experienced Springbok forward behind Victor Matfield and John Smit.

Mtawarira will also play in his 40th Castle Lager Rugby Championship Test match, which ranks him fourth behind Bryan Habana (53), Jean de Villiers (50) and Victor Matfield (48).

The following players will make their Rugby Championship debuts: Uzair Cassiem, Andries Coetzee, Ross Cronjé, Raymond Rhule and Courtnall Skosan. It will also be the first games for Jean-Luc du Preez and Curwin Bosch should they come off the bench.

Bosch will become Springbok #887 if he runs onto the field as a replacement.