South Africa mixed physicality and pacy brilliance in equal measure when they beat Scotland 18-3 in Marseille seven days ago. We should expect more of the same, despite a much-changed team
Head coach Jacques Nienaberhas made 14 changes to his starting XV following their 18-3 victory against Scotland. Damian Willemse is the only player to keep his place, although the Stormers utility back starts at fly-half instead of full-back.
A cornerstone of the Springboks’ campaign at RWC 2019 was the manner in which squad players stood up when called on, enabling the coaching staff to rest key personnel. Jacques Nienaber will want to see something similar this afternoon.
Eugen Apjok’s Romania, meanwhile, showed glimpses of genuine quality despite losing 82-8 to Ireland last weekend - they shocked Andy Farrell's side into action with an early try. Going up against the first and second-ranked sides in the world in a week is as tough as it gets, but Oaks will be out to impress against the Springboks this afternoon.
FIXTURE: South Africa v Romania
GROUND: Stade de Bordeaux (42,060)
KICK-OFF: 15:00 local time (GMT+2)
South Africa and Romania face each other in a test match for only the second time today. They last met in Cape Town during Rugby World Cup 1995.
It was 30 May, 1995. Adriaan Richter scored two tries to help South Africa to a 21-8 win against the Oaks in front of 45,000 fans at Newlands in both sides’ second match of that year’s Rugby World Cup.
The Springboks had already beaten Australia, and would later get the better of Canada, Western Samoa, France and New Zealand to lift the Webb Ellis Cup.
KEY TALKING POINT
The RWC-ending injury to South African hooker Malcolm Marx has dominated headlines out of their Toulon base camp. But we cannot ignore, either, coach Nienaber’s decision to select four scrum-halves for this match.
Cobus Reinach starts at scrum half, with Jaden Hendrikse providing cover off the replacements’ bench; Grant Williams shows his versatility by starting on the right wing, and Faf de Klerk will provide flyhalf cover from the bench. After the notorious 7-1 bench against New Zealand, Nienaber and Erasmus are maintaining the innovation…
Damian Willemse v Hinckley Vaovasa. Forget the impending scrum-half chaos and look one position further out, as Willemse swaps in for Manie Libbok in the Springbok ranks to team up with Cobus Reinach at the hinge for the first time.
It's the second time in as many matches that Vaovasa has been highlighted here. But it's thoroughly deserved. He keeps his place at fly-half for Romania after a fine afternoon's work against Ireland in what was only his second test start at 10. He beat nine defenders – only New Zealand’s Mark Telea managed more in the first block of matches. South Africa will have to watch him.
Dean Fourie, who normally plays in the back row, covers the hooker spot on the bench against Romania. Fourie, who wore the number 2 shirt at under-19 level for South Africa, became the oldest test debutant in Springbok history in a 13-12 defeat by Wales in July 2022, three months shy of his 36th birthday.
Mathieu Raynal (France). The French referee took charge of England’s match against Argentina in Marseille last weekend - and showed the tournament’s first red card to Tom Curry, following a review process by the Foul Play Review Officer in the ‘bunker’.
SOUTH AFRICA Willie Le Roux; Grant Williams, Canan Moodie, Andre Esterhuizen, Makazole Mapimpi; Damian Willemse, Cobus Reinach; Ox Nche, Mbongeni Mbonambi (captain), Vincent Koch; Jean Kleyn, Marvin Orie; Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Duane Vermeulen
Replacements: Deon Fourie, Steven Kitshoff, Trevor Nyakane, RG Snyman, Jasper Wiese, Jaden Hendrikse, Faf de Klerk, Jesse Kriel
ROMANIA Marius Simionescu; Tevita Manumua, Jason Tomane, Taylor Gontineac, Nicholas Onutu; Hinckley Vaovasa, Gabriel Rupanu; Iulian Hartig, Ovidiu Cojocaru, Alexandru Gordas, Adrian Motoc, Marius Iftimiciuc, Andre Gorin, Vlad Neculau, Cristian Chirica (captain)
Replacements: Robert Irimescu, Alexandru Savin, Thomas Cretu, Stefan Iancu, Damian Stratila, Cristi Boboc, Alin Conache, Gabriel Pop