Berliner TageBlatt - Steyn to start at fly-half for Springboks against Argentina

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Steyn to start at fly-half for Springboks against Argentina
Steyn to start at fly-half for Springboks against Argentina / Foto: © AFP

Steyn to start at fly-half for Springboks against Argentina

Title contenders South Africa have chosen veteran Francois Steyn at fly-half for their final round Rugby Championship match against Argentina in Durban on Saturday.

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The 35-year-old utility back, a World Cup winner with the Springboks in 2007 and 2019, starts after Handre Pollard, Elton Jantjies and Damian Willemse were ruled out.

First choice Pollard is injured, Jantjies was dropped from the squad last week after reports of an alleged affair with the team dietician, and Willemse is recovering from concussion.

That left Steyn, who can perform at full-back, centre or fly-half, as the only option for head coach Jacques Nienaber.

It is a rare start for Steyn in the green and gold shirt after playing a key role in the 2019 World Cup triumph in Japan as one of only two backs on the bench.

Instead of deploying the traditional five forwards and three backs as replacements, the Springboks went for a six-two split with Steyn covering every backline position except scrum-half.

This meant South Africa could change six of the eight forwards, which often gave them an edge in fitness against tiring opponents in Japan.

In the only other change to the starting line-up from the side that beat the Pumas 36-20 in Buenos Aires last Saturday, flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit replaces Francois Mostert.

Former World Rugby Player of the Year Du Toit had struggled to make an impact in recent months after a long injury layoff and did not travel to Australia recently or Argentina.

"We were pleased with the calmness Francois brought at fly-half when Damian was forced to leave the field in Argentina last weekend," Nienaber told reporters.

"The energy and enthusiasm Pieter-Steph has been showing at training has also been great, and we know what he is capable of in this loose trio, so I am sure he will make an impact."

There are five changes to the Buenos Aires bench, including the return of fit-again hooker Bongi Mbonambi in place of Deon Fourie.

Prop Vincent Koch, No. 8 Duane Vermeulen and winger Kurt-Lee Arendse come in and Mostert drops down from the starting line-up.

South Africa and New Zealand, who play third-placed Australia in Auckland before the match in Durban kicks off, are level on 14 points entering the final round.

Team (15-1)

Willie le Roux; Canan Moodie, Jesse Kriel, Damian De Allende, Makazole Mapimpi; Francois Steyn, Jaden Hendrikse; Jasper Wiese, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (capt); Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth; Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff

Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche, Vincent Koch, Franco Mostert, Duane Vermeulen, Kwagga Smith, Faf de Klerk, Kurt-Lee Arendse

Coach: Jacques Nienaber (RSA)

N.Fournier--BTB