Find out who will line up for the Springboks in Cape Town


South Africa team to play Lions – First Test

Siya Kolisi will captain South Africa in the first Test of the British & Irish Lions 2021 series on Saturday in Cape Town.

The back-rower tested positive for Covid-19 a few weeks ago but rejoined the squad on Monday after completing his isolation period in Johannesburg, as did wing Makazole Mapimpi and prop Ox Nché.

All three have been named in the starting line-up to take on the Lions and head coach Jacques Nienaber is confident they are ready for the challenge despite all the disruptions to preparations.

“Some of the players didn’t have Covid-19 symptoms at all, they have been managed according to their individual needs, and they have really impressed me with their intensity and enthusiasm at training,” said Nienaber.

“The wellbeing of our players is of paramount importance, so we have been working closely with the medical team to work out what would be the best course of action for each player over the three-Test series.”

Fly-half Handré Pollard, who has been named vice-captain, will win his 50th cap against the Lions this weekend.

Twenty-one of the 23 players named in the match-day squad were part of the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup-winning campaign in 2019 and 11 of the starting XV also started the final against England, so there is plenty of experience.

Nienaber said: “The fact that most of the players participated in the Rugby World Cup means they know one another well on and off the field, and as coaches we know what they have to offer after having worked with most of them for several years.”

In a change from the World Cup, the Boks have reverted to a more traditional five-three split between forwards and backs on the bench. In Japan, they favoured a six-two split, but with several players lacking game time Nienaber felt having more back-line options amongst the replacements was necessary.

South Africa team to play Lions – First Test

Willie le Roux; Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi; Handré Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Ox Nché, Bongi Mbonambi, Trevor Nyakane, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi (captain), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Kwagga Smith.

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Lood de Jager, Rynhardt Elstadt, Herschel Jantjies, Elton Jantjies, Damian Willemse.

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