Springboks include all four scrum-halves in squad for Rugby World Cup clash with Romania

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

South Africa have sprung yet another selection surprise by having all four of their scrum-halves in the 23 to face Romania on Sunday.

The lightning quick Grant Williams, who impressed off the bench against Scotland, interestingly starts on the wing with Cobus Reinach in the number nine position.

And not content with having just one scrum-half among the replacements, they have gone with two as both Jaden Hendrikse and Faf de Klerk are on the bench.


“People were surprised when we picked four scrum-halves in the squad but we knew they offered us the skills and versatility to provide backline options to manage the challenges that tournament rugby gives you,” said head coach Jacques Nienaber.

“They are all excellent scrum-halves, but Grant and Cobus can play wing and Faf has experience at number 10 – as do Cheslin (Kolbe) and Willie. We have the same versatility among our forwards.

“Grant played school rugby on the wing, and he has come on at wing before for us, so we are excited to give him this opportunity to start there and for him to gain international experience in the position.

“Faf is also one of our back up fly-halves in the squad, and the same applies to him, as it will be valuable for him and the team to get some game time in the position.

“We have been rotating and testing players in different positions since last season to put us in the fortunate position to have a group of 33 players in France that are closely matched in terms of their quality of play and skills, and who have been pushing one another for places in the last few months. It has allowed us to select a top-quality team for this match.”

Much-changed team

The Springboks have completely changed their side from the team that defeated Scotland with only Damian Willemse remaining in the XV.

He has switched position, however, moving from full-back to fly-half to allow Willie le Roux to take his place in the 15 jersey.

Le Roux is joined by Williams and Makazole Mapimpi in the back three, while at centre Canan Moodie returns from a minor injury.

Moodie partners Andre Esterhuizen in midfield, forming the combination which proved so effective against the All Blacks in the 35-7 victory at Twickenham.

Up front, Duane Vermeulen, Kwagga Smith and Marco van Staden make up the back-row, with Marvin Orie and Jean Kleyn ahead of them at lock.

The front-row sees props Vincent Koch and Ox Nche either side of hooker and captain Bongi Mbonambi.

On the bench, they have gone for a 5-3 split as Deon Fourie, Steven Kitshoff, Trevor Nyakane, RG Snyman and Jasper Wiese cover the forwards, with Jesse Kriel alongside scrum-halves Hendrikse and De Klerk as the backline replacements.

“They (Romania) scored the first try in their opening match against Ireland, they showed real skill in a number of areas of their game, and they fought throughout the match, so we know what we are in for,” Nienaber added.

“Obviously from our perspective it is important to build momentum in our campaign and this match plays a vital role in our plans for the tournament, so it is important that we follow through with our plan in this match.”

The team

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Grant Williams, 13 Canan Moodie, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi (c), 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Jaden Hendrikse, 22 Faf de Klerk, 23 Jesse Kriel

Date: Sunday, September 17
Venue: Stade de Bordeaux
Kick-off: 15:00 local (14:00 BST, 13:00 GMT)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant Referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Pierre Brousset (France)
TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia)

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