SPRINGBOKS MAKE WHOLESALES CHANGES IN TONGA TUSSLE
Marseille, France - In a thrilling turn of events, Handre Pollard, the talismanic playmaker, is set to make his triumphant return to the international rugby stage as the Springboks prepare to take on Tonga this Sunday in a high-stakes showdown in Marseille. Coach Jacques Nienaber has orchestrated a dramatic squad rotation, ushering in a fresh blend of talent and experience in the crucial final Rugby World Cup pool match.
Pollard, whose last Test appearance was way back in August 2022, has fought through adversity and injury to don the iconic green and gold jersey once again. His path to recovery, marked by a resilient comeback for the Leicester Tigers, has brought him back to the Springbok fold for this pivotal clash.
Adding to the intrigue, Marco van Staden will take up the hooker role, donning the coveted No 16 jersey for the very first time. The Springboks, who are locked in a tight battle to secure a quarter-final berth, are leaving no stone unturned.
The match's outcome will be of utmost significance, shaping the destiny of the two teams from Pool B that advance to the quarter-finals and determining their potential adversaries in the top-eight playoff.
Nienaber, in a bold move, has made a total of 12 changes to the starting lineup, keeping faith in battle-hardened leaders such as captain Siya Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth, and the formidable Jasper Wiese. Meanwhile, the bench features a traditional split of five forwards and three backs, emphasizing the depth and versatility of the squad.
In the buildup to this monumental clash, Nienaber expressed confidence in his team's physicality and execution, recognizing the challenge posed by Tonga's passionate and forceful style of play. The Springboks, with their eyes firmly set on defending their World Cup title, are committed to translating their hard work into a top-quality performance.
As the rugby world braces for the excitement of Pollard's return and the Springboks' quest for World Cup glory, the stage is set for a memorable encounter in Marseille.
Springbok Starting XV:
Fullback: Willie le Roux
Wingers: Grant Williams, Makazole Mapimpi
Centers: Canan Moodie, Andre Esterhuizen
Flyhalf: Handre Pollard
Scrumhalf: Cobus Reinach
No. 8: Jasper Wiese
Flankers: Duane Vermeulen (No. 7), Siya Kolisi (Captain), Marvin Orie
Locks: Eben Etzebeth, Vincent Koch
Hooker: Deon Fourie
Prop: Ox Nche
Marco van Staden (No. 16), Steven Kitshoff, Trevor Nyakane
Franco Mostert, Kwagga Smith
Jaden Hendrikse, Jesse Kriel, Manie Libbok
[Submitted by Kevin Rademeyer]