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Rugby Championship Round 1 – Springboks v Argentina

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With South African fans still celebrating the series win over the British & Irish Lions, Jacques Nienaber and his coaching team has been Gard at work this week to get ready for the new challenges that the Rugby Challenge will bring to the defending champions.

It is a whole new ball game for Nienaber and his team with Argentina bring a total different challenge to the field when they start their campaign in PE this weekend.

The Pumas will be ready for the Springboks as most of their players are based in Europe these days and had plenty of rugby behind them the last couple of months.

Argentina will go into the tournament with plenty of confidence after beating the All Blacks for the first time in their history. They only loss one of their matches last year against the All Blacks and draw twice against Australia.

Argentina head coach Mario Ledesma has named a powerful side to face the Springbok in the first of back to back matches in PE before both teams travel to Australia and New Zealand for the remainder of the matches.

Ledesma had to content starting the tournament without Fullback Emiliano Boffelli and Facundo Gigena due to COVID related issues. The pair was unable to travel to South Africa and will join the team on a later date.

He also have to go into this fist test match without his number one scrumhalf, Tomas Cubelli who is injured. This means that Santiago Carreras will take the number fifteen jumper in the fist test and Felipe Ezurra will take the number nine jumper.

He will partner with Nicolas Sanchez as the halfback pair for this first test match this weekend. Julian Montoya will again lead the side from the number two jumper.

Montoya will partner with Francisco Gomez Kodela and Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro to form the front row. Marco Kremer and Guido Petti will pack down in the second row with Bruni at number eight and Isa and Matera on the side of the scrum.

In the midfield we will see Santiago Chocobares and Jerónimo De La Fuente with Bautista Delguy and Matías Moroni joining Carreras as the back three.

The Springboks will for sure get a much bigger challenge in the set pieces and at breakdowns against the Pumas and former captain Pablo Matera will be gold for them on the side of the scrum.

We know that the Pumas like to play with ball in hand so defence will be a very important aspect of the game if they want to keep them out this weekend.

Jacques Nienaver has made a few changes to his side that sealed the series win last weekend against the Lions. All-in-all Nienaber and his coaching team has made 12 changes to the side given a few players a rest.

This will test a great group of his squad as he puts his faith in them to give them a great start in defending their title they won in 2019.

In the front row we have Joseph Dweba coming in to start at hooker and he will have Wilco Louw and the impressive Ox Nché next to him.

This leaves Malcolm Marx as cover on the bench for Dweba with Bongi Mbonambi out of the match day squad fr this one.

Lood de Jager and Eben Etzebeth are back in the second row as he kept some experience in his tight five.

Siya Kolisi will again lead the side onto the field after a great series against the Lions showcase why he is so highly rated by his coaching team not just as a captain but also as a player.

Kolisi will be joined by Jasper Wiese taking again the number eight jersey and Kwagga Smith starting with the number seven on  his back this weekend.

They have Marco van Staden and Dan du Preez to cover for them and make their impact with the bomb squad later in the test match.

In the backline we also see Nienaber give a few players the chance to show what they got. Cobus Reinach gets another crack at nine but this weekend he will have Elton Jantjies next to him as Pollard is being rested.

That means that Morne Steyn, who kicked the winning penalty against the Lions will again be on the bench.

We have a brand new midfield combination as well with Frans Steyn and Jesse Kriel getting the nod. Damien de Allende and Lukhanyo Am has been rested as well after the Lions series.

We also have a brand new back three in Damien Willemse at fullback and Sbu Nkosi and Aphelele Fassi on the wings. This is a young and exciting back three and the only wish is that they get some ball to play with to show their skills and class at this level.

On the bench Marvin Orie has been included as well with Herchel Jantjies and Morne Steyn the only backs. Trevor Nyakane and Vincent Koch will be cover for the front row.

With a long international season lying ahead for Nienaber one can understand why he is already managing his players. After the Rugby Championships which ends in October Nienaber has to plan for a difficult End of Year tour which lies ahead in November.

One thing that counts a lot for Nienaber is that he had the big squad with him now since June when they got together in Bloemfontein, so players do understand their job in the squad and would be eager to get game time.

Nienaber knows that Argentina is a physical side and his players will have to stand up against the South Americans if they want to get a win this weekend.

Execution will be important and as we saw in the Lions series discipline can make the difference in these test matches.

Andrew Brace form Ireland will be the man with the whistle this weekend with Karl Dickson and AJ Jacobs running the touch lines with Tom Foley as the TMO.

The match will be live on SuperSport so do not miss the opening round of this years Rugby Championship.

Teams:

Springboks: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Aphelele Fassi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ox Nché.

Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Dan du Preez, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Morné Steyn.

Argentina: 15 Santiago Carreras, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Santiago Chocobares, 12 Jerónimo De La Fuente, 11 Matías Moroni, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Felipe Ezcurra, 8 Rodrigo Bruni, 7 Facundo Isa, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Marco Kremer, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela,2 Julian Montoya (Captain), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.

Replacemetbs:16 Facundo Bosch, 17 Carlos Muzzio, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Tomas Lavanini, 20 Matias Alemanno, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Domingo Miotti, 23 Sebastian Cancelliere