This article was added by the user . TheWorldNews is not responsible for the content of the platform.

Kolbe one of four changes as Springboks launch World Cup defence

Electric winger Cheslin Kolbe was one of four run-on changes as South Africa named their team to launch their World Cup defence against Scotland in Marseille on Sunday.

Coach Jacques Nienaber named an experienced side that features seven players who took part in the World Cup final in 2019, when the Boks crushed England for the Webb Ellis Trophy.

“We are pleased with the squad depth we have built in the last few months, and we believe this group of players strikes the right balance to achieve the result we need against Scotland,” said Nienaber.

“We are very excited about this occasion. We’ve been building for this World Cup for the last four years and we are thrilled to get our campaign started.

“We’ve been working hard in the last few weeks to make sure we are as prepared as possible going into this match and we are fully aware of the challenge that awaits us.”

Of the four changes to the team that notched up a record 35-7 victory over New Zealand in the two teams’ final warm-up match, the sole alteration in the Springbok starting pack comes at No 8, where Jasper Wiese takes over from Duane Vermeulen, who moves to the bench.

Changes in the backline see Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel unite in a midfield pairing, and Kolbe returning at left wing in place of Makazole Mapimpi.

Two players, utility back Canan Moodie and lock Jean Kleyn, were not considered for selection due to hamstring and knee niggles respectively.

‘Massive achievement’

Nienaber opted for a six-two split in favour of the forwards on the replacements’ bench.

The Springboks had come in for criticism after they opted for a seven-one split for the hammering of the All Blacks, Kwagga Smith named on the bench after Willie Le Roux was a late withdrawal from the match-day 23.

Against Scotland, Bongi Mbonambi (hooker), Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane (both props), RG Snyman (lock), Marco van Staden (flanker) and Vermeulen are named as the impact forwards, while Grant Williams and Le Roux provide backline cover.

The match will mark scrum-half Faf De Klerk’s half-century of internationals.

“Earning 50 Test caps is a massive achievement and to mark that feat in the opening game of the Rugby World Cup makes it very special,” said Nienaber.

“Faf has been a key member of our team for a few years, so we are delighted for him. Needless to say, we’re all focused on making sure it’s a memorable occasion for him and the rest of us.”

The Springboks have only played Scotland twice since Nienaber and director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus, took over the coaching reins in 2018: a 26-20 victory in 2018 and a 30-15 win in 2021, both in Edinburgh.

But Nienaber said he expected a close contest.

“Scotland are a quality team with a strong pack and skilful backs, and they play with a lot of intensity, so we need to be sharp on attack and defence on Sunday,” he said.

“They have proved in the last few seasons that they can beat any team, and with this being the opening game of the World Cup for both sides, they will be equally as charged up as us for the match.”

Aside from Scotland, ranked fifth in the world, a tough Pool B will also see second-ranked South Africa in action against the world’s number one team Ireland, Tonga and Romania.

South Africa (15-1)

Damian Willemse; Kurt-Lee Arendse, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Cheslin Kolbe; Manie Libbok, Faf de Klerk; Jasper Wiese, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (capt); Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth; Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff

Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane, RG Snyman, Marco van Staden, Duane Vermeulen, Grant Williams, Willie le Roux

Coach: Jacques Nienaber (RSA)