Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber made three changes to his starting team for the clash, two of which were personnel changes and one positional switch, mainly due to injuries to the influential Pieter-Steph du Toit (flanker) and Faf de Klerk (scrumhalf).
With Du Toit, the World Rugby Player of the Year in 2019, having taken a knock to the shoulder in the second Test last weekend, Franco Mostert moves from lock to the side of the scrum, while Lood de Jager is promoted from the bench to the starting team and will start alongside Eben Etzebeth in the second row.
The other change is at scrumhalf, where Cobus Reinach replaces De Klerk, who has been ruled out due to a muscle strain in his leg.
Nienaber opted to name three backs on the bench, with Steyn (flyhalf) joining Herschel Jantjies (scrumhalf) and Damian Willemse (utility back).
Should Steyn take the field, it would mark a significant occasion for the player, as it would officially see him participate in back-to-back Castle Lager Lions Series tournaments. He kicked the penalty goal that sealed the series victory in 2009, while it would also see Steyn make a return to Test rugby for the first time in five years, after last playing against New Zealand in 2016.
“This is a massive Test for us with the Castle Lager Lions Series on the line, so it was important for us to maintain consistency in selection following on last week’s performance,” said Nienaber.
“Pieter-Steph du Toit was ruled out due to the shoulder injury he suffered last week, but we are fortunate to have experienced players such as Franco and Lood who can step in and who have the physical presence we need in those roles.
“Cobus is also an experienced player with a calm head and who can handle pressure, and we believe he will be able to dictate play well alongside Handré Pollard, while Herschel Jantjies has been great in adding the necessary spark we need off the bench, and will be asked to fulfil that role again.”
Nienaber was thrilled to see midfielder De Allende, who made his Test debut against Argentina in 2014, reach this significant career milestone and said: “It doesn’t get any bigger than earning a 50th Test cap in a series decider against the British & Irish Lions.
“We are excited for Damian and we know what it will mean to him and the team to win this match. He has been a key figure in the Bok team in the last few seasons and it gives us great pride to see him achieve this feat.”
Nienaber was also pleased to see Steyn back in the Bok jersey for the first time in years.
“I am delighted for Morné – he is a world class player and his work ethic and positive attitude on and off the field since joining the team in Bloemfontein has been impressive,” said the Bok coach.
“He can also perform under extreme pressure, as he shown for the Springboks and the Bulls, and that skill will be invaluable in such a vital Test.”
Looking forward to the match, Nienaber said he is expecting an epic battle and that the Boks were ready to give everything to win the Series.
“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 honour that is,” said Nienaber.
“I don’t think one needs any more motivation than that to win this weekend. We are preparing for a physical encounter and we know that every small battle will count if we want to win the series.
“This match is as important to us as it is for the Lions, so we know it is going to be tight, and we will have to capitalise on every opportunity we have to score points, and be effective in every area of our game.
“As Springboks, big moments such as these excite us, so we plan to go out there and give everything we have to clinch the Series.”
Mathieu Raynal (France) will referee the match, with Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand) and Nic Berry (Australia) serving as assistant referees, while Marius Jonker (South Africa) will be the television match official.
When it comes to the betting, the bookies seem to agree that South Africa are quite big favourites with odds of 8/11 being the current best. You will be able to find odds of 7/5 for a Lions win and as big as 22/1 for the draw if you fancy an outside bet. If you are considering a bet then maybe check out one of the many free bet websites such as free-bets.uk.com to see if there are any free bets you can claim to use on the match as well.
Springbok team to face the British & Irish Lions:
15 – Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz) – 64 caps, 60 pts (12t)
14 – Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse) – 16 caps, 40 pts (8t)
13 – Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks) – 17 caps, 20 pts (4t)
12 – Damian de Allende (Munster) – 49 caps, 30 pts (6t)
11 – Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks) – 16 caps, 75 pts (15t)
10 – Handré Pollard (vice-captain, Montpellier) – 51 caps, 494 pts (6t, 79c, 98p, 4d)
9 – Cobus Reinach (Montpellier) – 15 caps, 35pts (7t)
8 – Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers) – 2 caps, 0 pts
7 – Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) – 42 caps, 5pts (1t)
6 – Siya Kolisi (captain, Cell C Sharks) – 53 caps, 30 pts (6t)
5 – Lood de Jager (Sale Sharks) – 47 caps, 25 pts (5t)
4 – Eben Etzebeth (Toulon) – 88 caps, 15 pts (3t)
3 – Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers) – 41 caps, 5pts (1t)
2 – Bongi Mbonambi (DHL Stormers) – 39 caps, 40 pts (8t)
1 – Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers) – 50 caps, 5pts (1t)
16 – Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears) – 36 caps, 30 pts (6t)
17 – Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls) – 45 caps, 5 pts (1t)
18 – Vincent Koch (Saracens) – 22 caps, 0 pts
19 – Marco van Staden (Vodacom Bulls) – 4 caps, 0 pts
20 – Kwagga Smith (Yamaha Júbilo) – 9 caps, 5 pts (1t)
21 – Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers) – 13 caps, 25 pts (5t)
22 – Morné Steyn (Vodacom Bulls) – 66 caps, 736 points (8t, 102c, 154p, 10d)
23 – Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) – 9 caps, 5pts (1t)
- Handré Pollard needs six points to reach 500 Test points and two penalty goals to strike 100 penalty goals.
- The Springboks need two tries to reach 100 tries and one conversion to reach 50 conversions against the British & Irish Lions in this the 49th Test match since 1891.
- The total Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is
- There are 228 caps in the backline with 414 caps amongst the forwards. On the bench there are a further 140
- The average caps per player in the backline are 32, the forwards 51 while the players on the bench average 17.
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.