Springboks lose injured Du Toit, De Klerk; Lions change 6

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — South Africa stars Pieter-Steph du Toit and Faf de Klerk failed to recover from injuries and will miss the decisive final test against the British and Irish Lions in Cape Town on Saturday.

There was also no place for experienced forward Duane Vermeulen, who joined the Springboks camp on Sunday and was widely expected to make the matchday 23.

The unavailability of Du Toit and De Klerk, due to shoulder and muscle issues respectively, meant coach Jacques Nienaber was forced on Tuesday into calling on Lood de Jager at lock and Cobus Reinach at scrumhalf.

De Jager's inclusion pushed Franco Mostert into the loose forward trio.

Nienaber also surprisingly opted to dump the effective “Bomb Squad” 6-2 forwards-backs split in the reserves for a 5-3 option. That opened a space for veteran back Morne Steyn in place of De Jager.

"This group of players are among a handful of players in the history of South African rugby that have an opportunity to clinch a series against the Lions after winning the Rugby World Cup, and every player in this squad understands what a rare honor that is,” Nienaber said.

The Lions dropped Stuart Hogg, Taulupe Faletau and Owen Farrell and demoted Conor Murray, Mako Vunipola and Luke Cowan-Dickie.

There were six changes to the lineup, plus six in the reserves, as the Lions reacted on Tuesday to being thrashed 27-9 in the second test last weekend and blowing their first chance to clinch the series in Cape Town.

The backline, which hasn't engineered a try, was shook up. Ali Price returns at scrumhalf, insider center Bundee Aki and wing Josh Adams — the tour's leading try-scorer — make their first series appearances, and fullback Liam Williams has a first start after coming off the bench in the first test and being left out completely in the second.

The forwards were changed only in the front row, where Ken Owens swapped places with Luke Cowan-Dickie at hooker and Wyn Jones replaced Mako Vunipola at loosehead prop. Jones was set to start the first test but a shoulder injury delayed his Lions test debut until now.

Lock Adam Beard, No. 8 Sam Simmonds and flyhalf Finn Russell have a chance to feature for the first time in the series after being named in the reserves, where prop Kyle Sinckler is also picked subject to the outcome of a disciplinary hearing later Tuesday.

“We've no excuses from last week, the Springboks put us under pressure in the second half and deserved the win,” Lions coach Warren Gatland said. “We have to be much better than that second half performance, and I believe we will be.”

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Lineups:

South Africa: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Cobus Reinach; Jasper Wiese, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi (captain), Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff. Reserves: Malcolm Marx, Trevor Nyakane, Vincent Koch, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Herschel Jantjies, Morné Steyn, Damian Willemse.

British and Irish Lions: Liam Williams, Josh Adams, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Duhan van der Merwe, Danny Biggar, Ali Price; Jack Conan, Tom Curry, Courtney Lawes, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Maro Itoje, Tadhg Furlong, Ken Owens, Wyn Jones. Reserves: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Mako Vunipola, Kyle Sinckler, Adam Beard, Sam Simmonds, Conor Murray, Finn Russell, Elliot Daly.

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