- SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus said Kwagga Smith was the logical choice to replace Jasper Wiese at number eight for Saturday’s Test against France.
- Wiese withdraws from matchday 23 due to a head injury evaluation protocol.
- Deon Fourie was named as the replacement loose forward on the bench.
SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus confirmed that Kwagga Smith was given the nod at number eight ahead of Evan Roos for Saturday’s Test against France in Marseille due to his “form and adaptability”.
Smith, who had an excellent second half against Ireland in Dublin last week, was drafted into the starting lineup after Jasper Wiese withdrew due to a concussion.
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Erasmus said Smith fills a number of baseline positions, and the same applies to Deon Fourie, who has been drafted off the bench to fill Smith’s spot.
“It’s a matter of opinion because Kwagga is also number eight and we have done well in the position,” Erasmus told reporters on Friday.
“When we train, he’s definitely our second choice eight. When Duane was involved and it was touch and ready for him, Kwagga covered the position.
“We were hoping that Jasper would be able to pass the criteria from a head injury assessment rule perspective and I think we were one of the first countries that were briefed on how to deal with the new protocol,” he continued.
“We were hoping it would happen because it looked really good, so with a late trade like this, a guy like Deon makes sense for us.
“He knows French culture and has played quite a bit against them.”
15 Tomas Ramos; 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Yoram Moefana; 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont (captain); 8 Gregory Alldritt, 7 Charles Ollivon, 6 Anthony Jelonch; 5 Thibaud Flament, 4 Cameron Woki; 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Cyril Baille
Substitutes: 16 Peato Mauvaka, 17 Reda Wardi, 18 Sipili Falatea, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Bastien Chalureau, 21 Sekou Macalou, 22 Maxime Lucu, 23 Matthieu Jalibert
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Kwagga Smith, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain) , 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche
Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Deon Fourie, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Makazole Mapimpi
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Erasmus said Roos, who was the United Rugby Championship player of the season, has played well and will have a chance.
“Evan has been with us for a while and he deserves a chance somewhere,” Erasmus said.
“However, we must not forget how well Deon has played for the Stormers and has only had two Test caps.
“Fourie is also a realistic option to take to the World Cup next year with his ability to cover two positions, so we considered that.”
The start is at 22:00 (SA time).