South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber Tuesday called for a “colossal” effort to upset the All Blacks in their final Rugby Championship clash, confident his team can end the tournament on a high.
The world champions head into the game at Australia’s Gold Coast on Saturday after three straight defeats, including an agonising last-gasp 17-16 loss to New Zealand last weekend.
Nienaber stressed the importance of turning the corner and ending on a positive note as he announced a squad with two injury-enforced changes.
“We are bitterly disappointed about the results in the last few weeks and everyone in our team realises the importance of finishing the Rugby Championship on a winning note,” he said.
“We have no doubt that if we can build on the strong points of our game last week and improve further on the execution of our game plan, we can get the desired result.”
Nienaber added that winning would take “a colossal 80-minute effort, but the drive to succeed and motivation to win this weekend is as big as it gets.”
In a blow, tighthead prop Frans Malherbe was ruled out with a neck niggle, opening the door to Ox Nche. He will begin at loosehead prop with Trevor Nyakane switching from that role to take over from Malherbe.
“Trevor is a seasoned campaigner who is equally comfortable at loosehead and tighthead prop, and Ox is a strong scrummager, so we are looking forward to seeing what they can do in the scrums,” said Nienaber.
In the only other change to the matchday squad, back-rower Jasper Wiese comes onto the bench, replacing Marco van Staden who is sidelined with a shoulder injury.
Star winger Cheslin Kolbe, who has missed the last three matches with a leg problem, trained with the team this week, but suffered a late setback that again ruled him out.
“Cheslin would have started the match if he made a full recovery from the leg injury, but unfortunately his injury flared up during the latter stages of Tuesday’s field session, so we could not select him,” said the coach.
South Africa (15-1):
Willie le Roux; SbuNkosi, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, MakazoleMapimpi; Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Duane Vermeulen, Kwagga Smith, SiyaKolisi (capt); Lood de Jager, EbenEtzebeth; Trevor Nyakane, Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche
Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Franco Mostert, Jasper Wiese, Herschel Jantjies, Elton Jantjies, FransStyen.