Joseph Dweba will make his Springbok debut in the opening Castle Lager Rugby Championship match against Argentina at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday, in a new-look team named by Jacques Nienaber on Tuesday.
The inclusion of Dweba at hooker was one of 12 changes to the matchday squad that won the third and final Test in the Castle Lager Lions Series in Cape Town last Saturday.
Nienaber made 10 changes to the starting team, which features a fresh backline and front row, and two changes on the replacements bench. With Argentina expected to pose a serious physical challenge, the Springbok coach opted for a six-two split of forwards amongst the replacements.
The only players who retained their places in the starting team from the final Test against the British & Irish Lions last weekend were Springbok captain Siya Kolisi (flank), Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager (both locks), Japer Wiese (No 8) and Cobus Reinach (scrumhalf).
The changes to the pack of forwards see Ox Nché – who has recovered from his neck injury – and Wilco Louw (both props) join forces with Dweba in the front row, replacing Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe and Bongi Mbonambi respectively, while Kwagga Smith replaces Franco Mostert at blindside flank in a loose trio with Kolisi and Wiese.
Elton Jantjies starts at flyhalf in a halfback pairing with Reinach, replacing Handré Pollard, while Frans Steyn and Jesse Kriel will join forces in the midfield in place of Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am.
The other changes in the backline sees Damian Willemse replace Willie le Roux at fullback, while Sbu Nkosi and Aphelele Fassi – who made his Springbok debut against Georgia last month – will start at wing in place of Cheslin Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi respectively.
On the replacements bench, Marvin Orie and Dan du Preez have been drafted in to provide cover at lock and loose forward respectively, while the two backline replacements are Herschel Jantjies (scrumhalf) and Morné Steyn (flyhalf).
“It is a long season, so it’s important that we manage the players well and rotate our squad to ensure that everyone gets sufficient game time and rest,” said Nienaber.
“We have a talented squad, and we are excited to see some of the players get a chance to show what they can do against a tough Argentinean outfit.
“Most of the players in this matchday squad have been with us since our conditioning camp in Bloemfontein in June, and they’ve been working hard at training and deserve this opportunity to take the field.
“This is a big game for us, and we are looking forward to seeing what these player combinations will deliver as we begin our Castle Lager Rugby Championship campaign.”
Nienaber congratulated Dweba on being selected to make his Springbok debut and said: “Joseph is hard worker and a mobile hooker, which will be valuable traits against a physical side such as Argentina.
“He has shown what he can do for Bordeaux-Bègles and previously for the Toyota Cheetahs, so we are excited to see him make the step-up to this level.”
Nienaber expected a tough Test against Los Pumas and said being physical and accurate in their execution were key factors going into the match.
“Argentina are very physical, so we need to stand up to that challenge in every contest,” said Nienaber.
“Their forward pack is renowned for making their presence felt, so our set pieces need to be spot-on and it will be important to dominate at the contact points.
“All-in-all we need to deliver an accurate performance all around and it is vital that we capitalise on the opportunities we have to score points.”
Andrew Brace (Ireland) will referee the match, with Karl Dickson (England) and AJ Jacobs (South Africa) serving as his assistant referees, while Tom Foley (Wales) will be on Television Match Official duty.
The match kicks off 17h05 and will be broadcast live on SuperSport.
Springbok team to face Argentina in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship:
15 – Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) – 10 caps, 5pts (1t)
14 – Sbu Nkosi (Cell C Sharks) – 11 caps, 40 pts (8t)
13 – Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles, Japan) – 47 caps, 60 pts (12t)
12 – Frans Steyn (Toyota Cheetahs) – 68 caps, 141 pts (11t, 7c, 21p, 3d)
11 – Aphelele Fassi (Cell C Sharks) – 1 cap, 5pts (1t)
10 – Elton Jantjies (vice-captain – Pau, France) – 39 caps, 283 pts (2t, 63c, 49p)
9 – Cobus Reinach (Montpellier, France) – 16 caps, 35pts (7t)
8 – Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers, England) – 3 caps, 0 pts
7 – Kwagga Smith (Yamaha Júbilo, Japan) – 10 caps, 5 pts (1t)
6 – Siya Kolisi (captain, Cell C Sharks) – 54 caps, 30 pts (6t)
5 – Lood de Jager (Sale Sharks, England) – 48 caps, 25 pts (5t)
4 – Eben Etzebeth (Toulon, France) – 89 caps, 15 pts (3t)
3 – Wilco Louw (Harlequins, England) – 13 caps, 0 pts
2 – Joseph Dweba (Bordeaux, France) – uncapped
1 – Ox Nché (Cell C Sharks) – 3 caps, 0 pts
16 – Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears, Japan) – 37 caps, 30 pts (6t)
17 – Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls) – 46 caps, 5 pts (1t)
18 – Vincent Koch (Saracens, England) – 23 caps, 0 pts
19 – Marvin Orie (DHL Stormers) – 4 caps, 0 pts
20 – Marco van Staden (Leicester Tigers, England) – 5 caps, 0 pts
21 – Dan du Preez (Sale Sharks, England) – 4 caps, 0 pts
22 – Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers) – 14 caps, 25 pts (5t)
23 – Morné Steyn (Vodacom Bulls) – 67 caps, 742 points (8t, 102c, 156p, 10d)
Springbok record against Argentina:
Played 30; Won 26, Lost 3, Drawn 1; Points for 1058, Points against 594; Tries scored 125, Tries conceded 56; Highest score 73 pts, Biggest win 60 pts; Win %: 87%.
- Frans Steyn needs nine more points to reach 150 career points.
- Morné Steyn is the Springboks’ second highest point scorer with 742 points and needs eight points to reach 750 career points. He holds the record for the most penalty goals (156) in his 67 Tests as a Springbok.
- Steyn is the top points scorer against Argentina with 84 points (15 conversions and 18 penalty goals) in seven Test matches.
- Elton Jantjies needs one penalty goal to earn his 50th career penalty goal.
- The total Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is
- There are 192 caps in the backline with 220 caps amongst the forwards. On the bench there are a further 200
- The average caps per player in the backline are 27, the forwards 27 while the players on the bench average 25.
Munster Confirm Three New Signings
Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to confirm the signing of Oli Jager from the Crusaders with the tighthead prop signing a contract until the summer of 2027.
Hooker Eoghan Clarke is rejoining Munster on a short-term contract with back three player Colm Hogan also returning on a short-term deal.
Jager will join the province in the coming weeks with his contract beginning at the start of December.
Born in London, Jager started out at Naas RFC before playing schools rugby at Newbridge College and Blackrock College. He lined out for the Ireland U18 Schools team in 2013 before moving to Canterbury in New Zealand at the age of 17.
Initially attending the Crusaders International High Performance Unit, he earned a place in the Crusaders Academy in 2014. After impressing with New Brighton RFC, he earned a place in the Canterbury squad for the Mitre 10 Cup in 2016.
Jager made his Super Rugby debut for the Crusaders in 2017 and has been a key member of their squad for the past seven years, winning seven consecutive Super Rugby titles.
Eoghan Clarke spent three years in the Munster Academy before departing for Jersey Reds in March 2021. A former Ireland U20 international, Clarke won the English Championship with Jersey Reds last season before the club went into liquidation last month.
Colm Hogan, who has lined out for Ireland U20 and Munster A in the past, played his schools rugby with Glenstal Abbey. He captained Dublin University in the AIL and also had a spell with Colomiers in the PRO D2 while studying in France.
The 26-year-old played for Leinster against Chile last year and lined out with recent Munster arrival Alex Nankivell for Tasman Mako in the NPC this year.
Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography
Key All Black announces sabbatical to play in Japan
All Blacks captain Sam Cane will take up a sabbatical option in his New Zealand Rugby (NZR) contract in 2024 to play a season for Suntory in Japan League One.
The 31-year-old, 95-Test loose forward will miss the 2024 DHL Super Rugby Pacific season with the Chiefs, but will return to New Zealand in June to be available for selection to the All Blacks for the 2024 Steinlager Series and Rugby Championship campaign.
Cane, who is contracted to NZR through to the end of 2025, said he was looking forward to experiencing a new playing environment with Suntory and learning more about a new culture in Japan.
“When the opportunity to play for Suntory in 2024 came up it felt like the right time following the Rugby World Cup to try something new and also a great chance to continue to grow and learn in my rugby and life journey. I’m grateful to New Zealand Rugby for their support to take this opportunity.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to skip a season with the Chiefs, but I know the team is in a great place and has an incredible group of leaders in the squad and the coaching group to have a successful 2024, and I’m really pleased to be able to return in time to put my best foot forward for selection in the All Blacks.”
NZR CEO Mark Robinson said:
“Sam’s decision to take a sabbatical in 2024 has our full support and we wish him and his family all the best for their time in Japan. There are very few players who have given as much as he has to the jerseys he’s worn in his career to date and it’s a mark of his commitment to the All Blacks that he will return and make himself available for the Test season.”
Gallagher Chiefs Head Coach Clayton McMillan said:
“Sam has given everything to this team on and off the field and deserves to take this opportunity to experience something different. He is an exceptional player and influential leader who has been an integral part of the Gallagher Chiefs for many years. We wish him and his family all the best and hope they enjoy their time in Japan after a full-on year.”
Key All Black commits to Gallagher Chiefs until 2025
Dominant loose forward Luke Jacobson has extended his contract with the Gallagher Chiefs, Waikato and New Zealand Rugby until the end of 2025.
The 18-test All Black was a consistent starter for the Gallagher Chiefs this year and a key element of their outstanding DHL Super Rugby Pacific performances. He consequently went on to be named in the All Blacks squad to travel to France.
Gallagher Chiefs head coach Clayton McMillan is delighted to have Jacobson sticking around for another two seasons.
“Luke is an outstanding player; he’s a workhorse, a consistent performer and considered a real warrior within our group. Luke leads by example both on and off the field. He isnt one to waste words and prefers to let his actions speak for themself. In the absence of some senior players who have moved on, I have no doubt Luke will play an integral part providing the leadership and guidance our younger players will be looking for”.
Jacobson has impressed throughout his career, playing for the New Zealand U20s team twice and captaining them in his second season to win the 2017 U20 World Championship title. This aptitude for leadership has seen him pull on the Gallagher Chiefs captain’s armband on multiple occasions.
Waikato Rugby head coach Ross Filipo is excited about Luke extending his career with Waikato. “He is a great man and a great leader who continues to make huge contributions on and off the field and always represents the region with pride.”
Speaking on his signing Jacobson said: “I’m stoked to signing on with the Waikato, Chiefs and NZR for another two years. I love representing these teams and am very proud to be able to call myself a Waikato/Chiefs man and also and All black. I’m hungry to succeed with these teams and tick off a few unticked boxes.”
The 2024 Gallagher Chiefs squad will be named later this year ahead of assembling for pre-season training.