Springboks rest frontliners for World Cup game vs Canada
KOBE, Japan (AP) — South Africa retained just two first-choice starters for its final Pool B game against Canada at the Rugby World Cup, trying to strike the balance between resting players and ensuring no slip-up in a game it still need to win, ideally with a bonus point.
Captain Siya Kolisi and inside center Damian de Allende were the only players to start again after the 49-3 win over Italy in Shizuoka.
South Africa gave itself some backup on the bench in Sunday's team selection with five frontline forwards alongside flyhalf Handre Pollard and fullback Willie le Roux included among the reserves.
The Springboks have had no margin for error in Japan since losing their opener to New Zealand. Canada lost 63-0 to New Zealand in its last pool game and 48-7 to Italy before that.
"This match is just as important as the three that we have already played," Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus said. "It has the same number of (pool) points available and the same impact on our chances of qualifying and we have to now complete the job."
Damian Willemse starts at fullback among the 13 changes to the starting team after arriving from England as an injury replacement for Jesse Kriel. Elton Jantjies is at 10 and has another chance to impress after being underwhelming in South Africa's big win over Namibia two games ago.
Prop Thomas du Toit and scrumhalf Cobus Reinach get their first starts of this World Cup and the 38-year-old Schalk Brits plays again, only this time in his regular position of hooker after being picked at No. 8 against Namibia.
"We are 31 players all on the same page. We know what we need to do and what we need to achieve," Reinach said.
South Africa's reserves should have too much strength for Canada even with just a four-day break between the Italy game in Shizuoka and this one at Kobe.
A win with a bonus point against Canada should be enough for South Africa to secure a spot in the quarterfinals.
Wings Cheslin Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi are among the group of players who are rested completely. Kolbe, who has been influential for South Africa in Japan, twisted his left ankle against Italy but hasn't done any permanent damage and has recovered completely. Mapimpi received nine stitches in a cut on his forehead in the Italy game.
South Africa: Damian Willemse, Warrick Gelant, Damian de Allende, Frans Steyn, Sbu Nkosi, Elton Jantjies, Cobus Reinach; Francois Louw, Kwagga Smith, Siya Kolisi (captain), Franco Mostert, RG Snyman, Vincent Koch, Schalk Brits, Thomas du Toit. Reserves: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Herschel Jantjies, Handre Pollard, Willie le Roux.