South Africa ‘A’ ‘A’ coach Johan Ackermann made wholesale changes to his team for Friday’s final match against the England Saxons in George and has called on his charges to end the two-match series with a win against a formidable opponent.
Although they lost the first match last Friday in Bloemfontein, mainly because of a luke-warm first-half performance, Ackermann’s team finished this match strongly and “won” the second half 21-10.
“This is the kind of urgency I’ll be looking for from the players,” said Ackermann.
“We tried things, but ultimately the first-half performance in Bloemfontein cost us dearly. If we can start on Friday like we finished off last week – bar that last try the Saxons scored – I know we can put together a much better show in George.
“I can also sense that the players are gelling a better on the training field having spent more time together and they know what is expected of them this weekend. If we can sharpen up on defence and look after the ball a bit better, the rest will come.”
Ackermann said the big number of changes was mainly made to afford every member of the squad playing time.
“These guys have worked incredibly hard over the last 10 days or so and all of them deserve an opportunity to get a taste of what international rugby is all about,” said Ackermann.
“Having said that, I believe we’ve put together a great side with some key combinations from their franchises teams for Friday’s match. There are some very good players in this squad and I’m excited for the challenge this weekend – as are they.”
At the back, Sergeal Petersen, Lukhanyo Am, Francois Brummer and Piet van Zyl will start in the places of Travis Ismaiel, Howard Mnisi, Garth April and Nic Groom respectively. Ismaiel and Mnisi are on the bench with Ntando Kebe.
Upfront, Arno Botha, Jean-Luc du Preez, RG Snyman, Jason Jenkins, Marcel van der Merwe and Malcolm Marx are in the starting line-up, replacing Nizaam Carr, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Stephan Lewies, JD Schickerling, Vincent Koch and Scarra Ntubeni.
Carr and Schickerling move to the replacements bench, where they will be joined by Edgar Marutlulle.
South Africa 'A': 15 Leolin Zas, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Lukhanyo Am, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Oupa Mohoje (c), 6 Jean-Luc du Preez, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Thomas du Toit
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Lizo Gqoboka, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Ntando Kebe, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Travis Ismaiel
Date: Friday, June 17
Venue: Outeniqua Park, George
Kick-off: 19:10 local (17:10 GMT)
Referee: Jaco van Heerden (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Quinton Immelman (South Africa), Egon Seconds (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)