Springboks back controversial 7-1 bench for crunch clash against Ireland

The starting lineup for the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup Pool B match against Ireland includes Eben Etzebeth.

With Bok head coach Jacques Nienaber supporting the 7-1 split in favor of the forwards on the bench, the seasoned second rower packs down alongside Franco Mostert at lock.

In the Boks’ 7-35 victory over the All Blacks at Twickenham, the strategy of keeping seven forwards on the bench and just one back proved to be divisive before to the Rugby World Cup.

While former Ireland hooker Bernard Jackman jumped to the Springboks’ defense, former Scotland head coach Matt Williams accused South Africa of abusing the bench.

13 changes

Only Damian Willemse and Bongi Mbonambi kept their starting positions from the 76-0 victory over Romania as Nienaber made 13 changes to his starting XV.

Mbonambi, the team’s sole pure hooker, lines up between the props Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe.

Etzebeth and Mostert team up in the second row, with Jasper Wiese at number eight and Siya Kolisi serving as the side’s openside flanker while Pieter-Steph du Toit serves as the blindside flanker.

Ireland will be faced by the same defensive unit that helped South Africa overcome Scotland 18-3 in the tournament’s first game.

Willemse changes to fullback after playing fly-half against Romania, with Chelsin Kolbe beginning on the left wing and Kurt-Lee Arendse on the right.

Faf de Klerk and Manie Libbok are back as the scrum-half and fly-half, while Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel are the starting centers.

Deon Fourie will remain the hooker on Nienaber’s seven-one bench, while Ox Nche and Trevor Nyakane will add prop reinforcements with the Munster lock tandem of Jean Kleyn, who played five Tests for Ireland.

Along with fellow Munster lock RG Snyman, former Ireland international Jean Kleyn is included on the substitutes’ bench.

In addition to Kwagga Smith, another versatile loose forward who is listed in the 22 jumper and who SA Rugby notes will also cover the wing due to his experience with the Springboks Sevens, Marco van Staden is also among the substitutes as cover in the back row and at hooker.

The only backline player listed on the bench is Cobus Reinach, who scored a hat trick against Romania and will cover scrum-half and wing.

The Springboks and Ireland will play each other for the first time at a Rugby World Cup on Saturday, making it the first Test between the two teams at a neutral site.

Springboks’ team to face Ireland

South Africa: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 RG Snyman, 21 Marco van Staden, 22 Kwagga Smith, 23 Cobus Reinach

Date: Saturday, 23 September
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
Kick-off: 21:00 local (20:00 BST, 19:00 GMT)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (NZR)
Assistant Referees: Mathieu Raynal (FFR), James Doleman (NZR)
TMO: Brendon Pickerill (NZR)

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