Moerat, who was a member of the Springbok touring squad for last season’s UK tour, and Louw have been a stand-out performers for the DHL Stormers and Vodacom Bulls respectively in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship this season, and given their fine form for their franchises, Nienaber will be expecting them to make a big impact off in what is a strong bench for the match.

Damian Willemse will start at fullback and Elton Jantjies at flyhalf in a backline featuring several familiar faces, in wings Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe, centres Lukhanyo Am and Damian de Allende, and scrumhalf Faf de Klerk.

In the front row, Frans Malherbe and Ox Nché will pack down on either side of Bongi Mbonambi (hooker), Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager will join forces at lock, and Springbok captain Siya Kolisi will form a loose trio with Franco Mostert and Jasper Wiese. Am will serve as vice-captain for the match.

With a physical onslaught expected from Wales, Nienaber opted for a six-two split on the replacements bench, with Herschel Jantjies (scrumhalf) and veteran fullback Willie le Roux providing cover among the backs, while the forwards comprise the impactful front row of Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff and Vincent Koch, Moerat, Louw and versatile loose forward Kwagga Smith.

“We have a talented group of players, and we believe the matchday squad we selected ticks the boxes in terms of what we would like to achieve in the opening Test against Wales,” said Nienaber.

“We have the added advantage of having several players that are quite versatile, so a guy like Damian Willemse for example can cover flyhalf and centre in addition to fullback, while Kwagga covers each of the loose forward positions and can even slot in at wing with his Blitzbok experience.

Siya Kolisi will lead the Boks in their first Test against Wales in South Africa since 2014.

Siya Kolisi will lead the Boks in their first Test against Wales in South Africa since 2014.

“Franco also gives us options at loose forward and lock, so we look forward to seeing what this team can produce on Saturday.”

Nienaber was delighted to offer Moerat and Louw – who are both former Junior Springbok players and have made a consistent impact for their respective franchises over the last few seasons – an opportunity to start on the replacements bench.

“We have a fantastic crop of young players who have really been working hard at training and putting up their hands, and it is pleasing for us as coaches to give Salmaan and Elrigh this opportunity,” said the Springbok coach.

“Salmaan was with us on our tour to the UK last season, and despite being so young he brings a different sense of experience as a former Junior Springbok and SA Schools captain, while Elrigh also featured in a World Rugby U20 Championship and has been playing senior provincial rugby for a while.

“We have a plan for the season in terms of giving some of the young players a chance to show what they can do at international level, while at the same time taking stock of the seasoned campaigners and where they are in terms of their rugby.

“Unfortunately, with such a big squad there will always be a few unlucky players, but it is a fine balancing act to ensure we win Tests, build squad depth, and transform as a team in the way we play.

Salmaan Moerat in action in 2020.

Salmaan Moerat in action in 2020.

“We have a plan for the season in terms of giving some of the young players a chance to show what they can do at international level, while at the same time taking stock of the seasoned campaigners and where they are in terms of their rugby.

“This is a long season with the Castle Lager Incoming Series, the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, the year-end tour where we are also hoping to play a few SA ‘A’ games, while we are also looking further ahead to next year’s Rugby World Cup.

“That said, we are looking forward to seeing what Salmaan and Elrigh have to offer if they get the opportunity to take the field.”

Nienaber expected a tough test against Wales, saying they will give everything as they look to turn things around following a disappointing Six Nations campaign.

“Wales have been training together for a few weeks now and we have no doubt that they will give everything against us on Saturday,” said Nienaber.

“They are an experienced squad, and they have top class players in their ranks – some of which represented the British &Irish Lions last year – so we are expecting a hard grind of a Test.

“They have physical forwards and backs that spark something from nothing, so we need to deliver a quality performance in order to get our season off to a strong start.”

Elrigh Louw is a former Junior Springbok representative.

Elrigh Louw is a former Junior Springbok representative.

Springbok team to face Wales in Pretoria:
15 – Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) – 15 caps, 5pts (1t)
14 – Cheslin Kolbe (Toulon) – 18 caps, 45pts (9t)
13 – Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks) – 26 caps, 25 pts (5t)
12 – Damian de Allende (Munster) – 58 caps, 35 pts (7t)
11 – Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks) – 25 caps, 100 pts (20t)
10 – Elton Jantjies (NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes) – 44 caps, 326 pts (2t, 65c, 61p, 1d)
9 – Faf de Klerk (Yokohama Canon Eagles) – 36 caps, 25pts (5t)
8 – Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers) – 11 caps, 0 pts
7 – Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) – 51 caps, 5pts (1t)
6 – Siya Kolisi (captain, Cell C Sharks) – 63 caps, 30 pts (6t)
5 – Lood de Jager (Panasonic Wild Knights) – 56 caps, 25 pts (5t)
4 – Eben Etzebeth (Cell C Sharks) – 97 caps, 15 pts (3t)
3 – Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers) – 46 caps, 5pts (1t)
2 – Bongi Mbonambi (Cell C Sharks) – 48 caps, 45 pts (9t)
1 – Ox Nché (Cell C Sharks) – 9 caps, 0 pts

16 – Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears) – 46 caps, 50 pts (10t)
17 – Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers) – 59 caps, 5pts (1t)
18 – Vincent Koch (Wasps) – 31 caps, 0 pts
19 – Salmaan Moerat (DHL Stormers) – uncapped
20 – Elrigh Louw (Vodacom Bulls) – uncapped
21 – Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka BlueRevs) – 19 caps, 5 pts (1t)
22 – Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers) – 21 caps, 25pts (5t)
23 – Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz) – 72 caps, 60 pts (12t)

Springbok record against Wales:

Played 37, Won 30, Lost 6, Drawn 1, Points for 945, Points against 586, Tries scored 111, Tries conceded 48, Highest score 96, Biggest win 83 Points, Win % 81

Match stats:

  • Cheslin Kolbe needs one try for his 10th try and 50
  • Elton Jantjies is currently in fifth place of all-time Springbok scorers (326 points) and he needs 10 points to pass Bryan Habana (335 points) in fourth
  • The Test match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday will be the 38th Test match between South Africa and Wales.
  • The Springboks need to score 55 points for 1 000
  • Saturday's Test will only be the fourth Test match at Loftus Versfeld between the two countries.
  • The three previous Tests' scores were as follows: 1998 – SA 96, Wales13; 2004 – SA 53, Wales18; 2008 – SA 37, Wales 21. The average score is 62-17.


  • The total Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is
  • There are 222 caps in the backline with 381 caps amongst the forwards. On the bench there are a further 342
  • The average caps per player in the backline are 24, the forwards 42, while the players on the bench average 31.