Schalk Brits will lead South Africa as captain for their 2019 Rugby World Cup Group B clash against Namibia in Toyota on Saturday. Kick-off is at 11h45 CAT, GMT +2.
Springboks head coach (director of rugby) Rassie Erasmus has made 13 changes to the starting line-up that lost 23-13 to New Zealand last weekend with only Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am retained from the two-time champions’ loss to the All Blacks.
Birts, who is the oldest player in the squad at the age of 38, will start in the back row at No. 8 and not at hooker, with Bongi Mbonambi coming in for Malcolm Marx in the front row.
It will only be the second time that Brits captain’s the Springboks having also done so in the country’s 24-18 win over Argentina in Pretoria this year.
Squad captain Siya Kolisi starts on the bench, as does Thomas du Toit who replaced the injured Trevor Nyakane who has returned to South Africa, while Jesse Kriel is the only player part of the entourage in Japan that is ruled out this weekend’s match due to injury.
South Africa will be playing their neighbours in this weekends World Cup match and they have already proven that they might not be the team everyone expects a whitewash over. Although the Springbok team may seem experimental Erasmus has chosen players with quick speed like Herschel Jantjies and Sbu Nkosi.
Already we’ve seen that the Tier-2 nations are increasingly competitive in this tournament,” said Erasmus.
“Namibia held Italy to a 25-point margin (47-22) in their opening match and scored three tries in making Italy scrap all the way.
“There’s no denying, we’ll start as favourites, but we’ll get a helluva shock if we think that’s enough to win the game. We have to treat all opponents in this tournament with equal seriousness, stick to our planning, bring intensity and then hopefully we’ll get our rewards.”
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Schalk Brits (captain), 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Steven Kitshoff, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Eben Etzebeth, 19 Siya Kolisi, 20 Franco Mostert, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Damian de Allende, 23 Cheslin Kolbe
15 Johan Tromp, 14 Chad Plato, 13 JC Greyling, 12 PJ Walters, 11 Lesley Klim, 10 Cliven Loubser, 9 Eugene Jantjies, 8 Adriaan Booysen, 7 Max Katjijeko, 6 Thomasau Forbes, 5 Tjiuee Uanivi (c), 4 Johan Retief, 3 AJ De Klerk , 2 Louis van der Westhuizen, 1 Des Sethie.
Substitutes: 16 Obert Nortje, 17 Andre Rademeyer, 18 Johannes Coetzee, 19 Prince !Gaoseb, 20 Janco Venter, 21 Wian Condradie, 22 Helarius Axasman Kisting, 23 Johan Deysel.