Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber was forced to make a late change to his team for their opening Castle Lager Rugby Championship Test against the Wallabies in Pretoria on Saturday with prop Steven Kitshoff replacing Ox Nche, who suffered an injury to his pectoral muscle on Tuesday.
Nche is expected to be out of action for several weeks, which has ruled him out of the southern hemisphere showpiece.
As a result, Kitshoff was withdrawn at the last minute on Tuesday from the early travelling squad to Auckland for next week’s clash against the All Blacks and drafted directly into the starting line-up for the Wallabies encounter at Loftus Versfeld.
Former Junior Springbok prop Gerhard Steenekamp has been drafted into the national squad, and had his first training session with the team on Wednesday. The talented 26-year-old will travel to New Zealand on Wednesday night to train with the players who departed on Tuesday.
Experienced prop Trevor Nyakane is also training with the squad in Pretoria and will continue to serve as back-up cover with Elton Jantjies (flyhalf) and Herschel Jantjies (scrumhalf) for the Australia Test.
“It’s never ideal to lose a player to injury days before an important Test match, but unfortunately it’s part of the game,” said Nienaber.
“We are particularly sad for Ox because he’s been working very hard in the last few months and making a great contribution on and off the field. We wish him a speedy recovery.”
Nienaber added: “On the upside we have players like Steven and Trevor to fall back on, and with both players having been with us in Pretoria for the last three-and-a-half weeks, it’s an easy switch for this match.
“We’ve always emphasised the importance of being adaptable as a team and that will be particularly important this season with the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, World Cup warm-up games and the global showpiece itself coming up.”
Nienaber added: “We are fortunate to have such depth at our disposal. We’ve been tracking between 50 and 60 players in the last few seasons with an eye on the World Cup, so we know what talent we have at our disposal.
“This will also be a fantastic opportunity for Gerhard to experience our systems and to be in the national set-up. He’s been impressive for the Vodacom Bulls this season and he’s a former Junior Springbok, so we are excited to see what he has to offer at training.
Springbok team to face Australia in Pretoria:
15 – Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz) – 83 caps, 65 pts (13t)
14 – Canan Moodie (Vodacom Bulls) – 4 caps, 5 pts (1t)
13 – Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks) – 31 caps, 30 pts (6t)
12 – Andre Esterhuizen (Harlequins) – 11 caps, 0 pts
11 – Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls) – 7 caps, 35 pts (7t)
10 – Manie Libbok (DHL Stormers) – 3 caps, 10 pts (5c)
9 – Cobus Reinach (Montpellier) – 24 caps, 45 pts (9t)
8 – Duane Vermeulen (captain, Ulster) – 65 caps, 15 pts (3t)
7 – Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz) – 66 caps, 25 pts (5t)
6 – Marco van Staden (Vodacom Bulls) – 10 caps, 0 pts
5 – Marvin Orie (DHL Stormers) – 11 caps, 0 pts
4 – Jean Kleyn (Munster) – uncapped for SA (Ireland 5 caps)
3 – Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers) – 58 caps, 5 pts (1t)
2 – Bongi Mbonambi (Cell C Sharks) – 56 caps, 60 pts (12t)
1 – Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers) – 71 caps, 5pts (1t)
16 – Joseph Dweba (DHL Stormers) – 4 caps, 0 pts
17 – Thomas du Toit (Cell C Sharks) – 15 caps, 0 pts
18 – Vincent Koch (Stade Francais) – 41 caps, 0 pts
19 – RG Snyman (Munster) – 23 caps, 5 pts (1t)
20 – Evan Roos (DHL Stormers) – 3 caps, 0 pts
21 – Deon Fourie (DHL Stormers) – 5 caps, 0 pts
22 – Grant Williams (Cell C Sharks) – 1 cap, 0 pts
23 – Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) – 27 caps, 36 pts (2t, 4c, 4p, 2d)
Issued by SA Rugby