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

Eben Etzebeth has been named in the Springboks starting lineup to face Ireland in the Rugby World Cup Pool B clash on Saturday.

The veteran second-rower packs down alongside Franco Mostert at lock with Bok head coach Jacques Nienaber back the 7-1 split in favour of the forwards on the bench.

The tactic of selecting seven forwards on the bench and just one back proved to be controversial ahead of the Rugby World Cup, with the Boks employing the tactic in the 7-35 victory over the All Blacks at Twickenham.

Former Scotland head coach Matt Williams said that South Africa were abusing the bench, while former Ireland hooker Bernard Jackman leapt to the defence of the Springboks.

13 changes

Nienaber has made 13 changes to his starting XV, with only Damian Willemse and Bongi Mbonambi retaining starting roles from the 76-0 win over Romania.

Mbonambi is the only out-and-out hooker in the squad and packs down in between props Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe.

In the second row Etzebeth combines with Mostert with Siya Kolisi skippering the side from openside flanker with Pieter-Steph du Toit on the blindside and Jasper Wiese at number eight.

The same backline that defeated Scotland 18-3 in South Africa’s opening World Cup match starts against Ireland.

After playing at fly-half against Romania, Willemse switches to fullback with Chelsin Kolbe starting on the left wing and Kurt-Lee Arendse on the right.

Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel are the starting centres, with Faf de Klerk and Manie Libbok returning as the scrum-half and fly-half, respectively.


Nienaber’s seven-one bench will see Deon Fourie continue as hooker, while Ox Nche and Trevor Nyakane will provide prop reinforcements with the Munster lock duo of Jean Kleyn – who played five Tests for Ireland.

Former Ireland international Jean Kleyn is included on the bench along with fellow Munster lock RG Snyman.

Marco van Staden is also amongst the replacements as cover in the back row and at hooker, while versatile loose forward Kwagga Smith named in the 22 jumper, with SA Rugby noting that he will also cover wing thanks to his Springboks Sevens’ experience.

Cobus Reinach, who scored a hattrick against Romania, is the only backline player named on the bench and will cover scrum-half and wing.

Saturday’s match will be the first time the Springboks and Ireland clash at a Rugby World Cup, making it the first Test between the two sides at a neutral venue.

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)

READ MORE: Rassie Erasmus takes a cheeky dig at Ireland ahead of World Cup clash

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