The Springbok bomb squad is back.
Coach Jacques Nienaber has recalled two heavy-hitters — a fit-again Pieter-Steph du Toit as well as Duane Vermeulen — for Saturday’s potential Rugby Championship decider against Argentina in Durban.
Du Toit and Vermeulen, both of whom have struggled for form and fitness recently, are back in the matchday squad where Nienaber has again opted to split his bench between six forwards and two backs.
In Du Toit’s absence of late, Franco Mostert has shone at blindside flank, while Jasper Wiese has made the No 8 jersey his own.
All four men though, as well as captain and fellow loose forwards Siya Kolisi and the versatile Kwagga Smith, will be part of the match in Durban — an outing Nienaber says is an “all or nothing” match for the Boks, who will again field the bomb squad.
“It is all or nothing for us this week,” said Nienaber on Tuesday when he named his side for the match.
“We have a team with several players who have won the Rugby World Cup and the British & Irish Lions Series, so they know it will take nothing less than a quality 80-minute effort to win this match and the competition.”
The other forwards on the Bok bench are fit-again Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche and Vincent Koch.
The Boks will know at kick-off what will be needed to win the competition, depending on what happens between the All Blacks and Wallabies earlier in the day.
Nienaber explained his reasoning behind recalling Du Toit to the starting team, despite the World Cup winning No 7 not being in the best form in 2022.
“The energy and enthusiasm Pieter-Steph has been showing at training has been great, and we know what he is capable of in this loose trio, so I am sure he will make an impact among the loose forwards,” said Nienaber.
“We have a group of hungry and talented players serving in the bomb squad this week (like Vermeulen, Mostert and Smith) and every player in the match day squad knows what is expected of them if we want to win the Rugby Championship.
“This is a massive game for both teams, so we need to be switched on mentally and physically from start to end of the match.”
The only changes to the Bok side that beat the Pumas in Buenos Aires last week are at flank where Du Toit starts and at flyhalf where Frans Steyn comes in for just his second Test at No 10. His last start as first receiver was in 2008 against Italy in Cape Town and he replaces the concussed Damian Willemse this week.
Springbok team to face Argentina in Durban:
Willie le Roux, Canan Moodie, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Frans Steyn, Jaden Hendrikse, Jasper Wiese, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (capt), Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff. Bench: Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche, Vincent Koch, Franco Mostert, Duane Vermeulen, Kwagga Smith, Faf de Klerk, Kurt-Lee Arendse