Hooker Joseph Dweba has been drafted into the Springbok starting line-up ahead of Saturday’s second Rugby Championship clash with the All Blacks at Ellis Park.
According to the Springbok camp, named starting hooker Bongi Mbonambi took a knock to the knee in training and the Bok brains trust have opted to withdraw him entirely given the long season that’s still ahead of them.
Dweba, who started both Tests he has played to date – against Wales in Bloemfontein in July and Argentina in Nelson Mandela Bay last year – will pack down alongside his former Cheetahs team-mate Ox Nche, with whom he progressed through SA Rugby’s national development pathway, which included featuring together for the Junior Springboks and SA Schools team.
“We have an important Rugby Championship tour coming up and a year-end tour later this year, so we don’t want to take any risks with Bongi,” said head coach Jacques Nienaber.
“Joseph has been working hard at training and he’s been waiting patiently for his chance, and we feel that it doesn’t get better than facing the All Blacks, who are one of the best teams in the world.
“We have big squad and a large part of the logic around that decision was to ensure that all the players are familiar with our structures and systems, and to expose them to Test rugby to build our squad depth with an eye on next year’s Rugby World Cup. So, this will be a fantastic opportunity for Joseph.”
Mbonambi will go for scans to his knee, but with limited training time left before Saturday’s Test, the coaches opted to withdraw him for this clash. There is also an important three-match tour to Australia and Argentina lying ahead, as well as the Boks’ year-end tour to Europe.
Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:05.
15 Damian Willemse, 14 Jesse Kriel, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ox Nche
Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Kwagga Smith, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Willie le Roux