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Three changes to the Springboks as the hosts look to level series

South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber has made three changes to the side that narrowly lost th...

South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber has made three changes to the side that narrowly lost the first test against the British and Irish Lions in the first test of the series.

The British and Irish Lions took the lead in the series with a 22-17 victory over South Africa on Saturday, with a brilliant second half performance.

The Springboks will hope that the three changes made to their starting XV and 'bomb squad' will be enough to level the series in the crucial second test, before a hopeful decider in the final test next weekend.

Prop Steven Kitshoff will earn his 50th test cap after being promoted from the bench, while Jasper Wiese will earn his second cap, wearing number eight in place of Kwagga Smith, who moves to the bench.

Kitshoff, who made his Test debut against Ireland in 2016, will mark his career milestone next to Frans Malherbe and Bongi Mbonambi in a new-look combination for the hosts.

Ox Nché, who started against the Lions last weekend, was ruled out due to the neck strain he picked up in the first test, while Trevor Nyakane moves from the starting XV to the Springbok 'bomb squad'. Vincent Koch comes onto the bench as cover for Nche.

Nienaber opted for a six-two split on the bench, which sees Marco van Staden take over from Rynhardt Elstadt as loose forward cover along with Kwagga Smith, while Herschel Jantjies and Damian Willemse will provide support in the backline.

“This is a massive game for us; it is do or die in order to stay in the race to win the series and we selected a team that offers continuity in selection, but also that we thought would be the best suited to achieve the objectives we have set for this match,” Nienaber said.

“Ox [Nche] did well in the scrums last week and has been ruled out due to injury, but fortunately we have a world class player in Steven [Kitshoff] who can step into the starting team.

"The fact that this will mark his 50th Test will make this occasion even more important for him.”

Springboks South Africa Lions

Nienaber mentioned that the expected increase in physicality was the main reason for opting for a six-two split for the crucial second test.

“We have had an extra week on the training field after a few disruptive weeks in the build-up to the opening test, so we are confident that the players in the squad will be able to deliver on the physicality and grit that will be required in this match," Nienaber said.

“We need to be better in every area of the game this week, and the set pieces will be crucial in laying the foundations we need to execute our game plan effectively.

“We also spoke about our discipline and the aerial battle as a team, and we intend to work as hard as possible at training this week to correct the errors that cost us last week.”

Nienaber expected another epic battle against the British & Irish Lions, and he said the Springboks were in the right frame of mind to bounce back from the disappointment they endured last week.

“We disappointed ourselves last week, and we all know how important it is to bounce back with a strong performance and show our fighting spirit and pride as a team and nation,” said the coach.

“For most players the Castle Lager Lions Series is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and we desperately want to win the series, so we will fight as hard as we can on the field to win this week so that we can achieve that goal.”

Springbok team

Backline: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am , Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handré Pollard, Faf de Klerk

Forwards: Jasper Wiese, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Trevor Nyakane, Vincent Koch, Lood de Jager, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Herschel Jantjies, Damian Willemse

Catch every moment of the British and Irish Lions series on Off The Ball, with live commentary from the likes of Brian O’Driscoll, Ronan O’Gara, Keith Wood, Alan Quinlan and more throughout the test series.

Brian O'Driscoll will be on commentary duties again for the second test this weekend, live on OTB Sports.

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Read more about

Bongi Mbonambi Cheslin Kolbe Damian De Allende Damian Willemse Eben Etzebeth Faf De Klerk Franco Mostert Frans Malherbe Handre Pollard Herschel Jantjies Jasper Wiese Kwagga Smith Lood De Jager Lukhanyo Am Makazole Mapimpi Malcolm Marx Marco Van Staden Pieter-Steph Du Toit Siya Kolisi Steven Kitshoff Trevor Nyakane Vincent Koch Willie Le Roux