Boks have best props back, Ireland to debut Aki in midfield
DUBLIN (AP) — First-choice props Tendai Mtawarira and Coenie Oosthuizen are back for South Africa against Ireland at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.
Inside center Damian de Allende has also been handed a first start this year after Jan Serfontein, who played in all previous nine tests, asked not to be considered for the European tour. Serfontein has transferred to French club Montpellier.
They were the only three changes to the lineup which lost to the All Blacks by a point last month in Cape Town.
Meanwhile, Bundee Aki will make his Ireland debut reprising a potent center partnership with Connacht clubmate Robbie Henshaw.
Mtawarira will play his 96th test, with the effective Steven Kitshoff set to replace him after about 50 minutes. Oosthuizen was fit again after breaking his arm in September against Australia in Perth.
"Continuity is important and we have kept changes to a minimum," coach Allister Coetzee said.
Aki, New Zealand-born and of Samoan descent, has been thrust into immediate test action after completing his three-year Ireland residency qualification. Injuries to Garry Ringrose and Jared Payne opened the door for Aki.
He and Henshaw excelled in tandem when Connacht won the Pro12 in 2016.
Keith Earls hurt his hamstring on Tuesday, and may yet be ruled out of Ireland's three tests this month. Munster teammate Andrew Conway has replaced him on the right wing, with Jacob Stockdale on the left wing for his third cap.
Reserve back Darren Sweetnam could make his test debut.
Cian Healy is also starting at loosehead prop after Jack McGrath picked up a knock in training.
Ireland: Rob Kearney, Andrew Conway, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale, Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray; CJ Stander, Sean O'Brien, Peter O'Mahony, Devin Toner, Iain Henderson, Tadhg Furlong, Rory Best (captain), Cian Healy. Reserves: Rob Herring, Dave Kilcoyne, John Ryan, James Ryan, Rhys Ruddock, Kieran Marmion, Joey Carbery, Darren Sweetnam.
South Africa: Andries Coetzee, Dillyn Leeds, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Courtnall Skosan, Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronje; Francois Louw, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth (captain), Coenie Oosthuizen, Malcolm Marx, Tendai Mtawarira. Reserves: Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff, Wilco Louw, Franco Mostert, Uzair Cassiem, Rudy Paige, Handre Pollard, Francois Venter.