Cape Town – Pieter-Steph du Toit will captain a young Springbok team featuring seven uncapped players in the starting line-up against Wales in Washington DC on Saturday (kick-off 23:00 SA time).
Du Toit (lock) will lead South Africa for the first time when they take on the Welsh in this once-off international, which falls outside World Rugby’s Test window.
The seven players in the starting team who will be making their debut in the United States capital are Travis Ismaiel and Makazole Mapimpi (wings), Andre Esterhuizen (centre), Ivan van Zyl (scrumhalf), Kwagga Smith (flank), Jason Jenkins (lock) and Ox Nche (prop).
A further six players with no Test experience were included on the bench, namely Akker van der Merwe (hooker), Thomas du Toit (prop), Marvin Orie (lock), Sikhumbuzo Notshe (loose forward), Embrose Papier (scrumhalf) and Robert du Preez (flyhalf).
If Du Preez comes on as a substitute, it will be the first time in SA history that there will be a set of a Springbok father with three Springbok sons – Robert (snr), Jean-Luc, Dan and Robert (jnr). The Sharks trio will also become the fourth set of three Springbok brothers.
Erasmus has opted for an experienced core of players – Jesse Kriel (centre), Elton Jantjies (flyhalf), Oupa Mohoje (flank), Du Toit (lock) and Chiliboy Ralepelle (hooker) – to provide the necessary calmness and guidance. He said he is looking forward to see the Springboks take one of Europe’s most powerful sides.
“As coaches, we are tremendously excited about the prospect of seeing some of our best young players getting the opportunity to play at this level,” said Erasmus.
Wales had the upper hand over the Springboks in their last two encounters, both played in Cardiff, and according to Erasmus, the Welsh will be especially motivated to continue with that trend.
“Wales have a very solid and effective kicking strategy and their cohesive forward and set-piece play are some of their main strong points. However, I do believe that we have picked a match-day squad that will be able to compete very strongly,” added Erasmus.
15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit (captain), 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Ox Nche
Substitutes: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Robert du Preez, 23 Warrick Gelant
*The three non-playing reserves are Frans Malherbe, Nizaam Carr and Cameron Wright