Manie Libbok and Grant Williams to start for new-look Boks against Argentina

Manie Libbok and Grant Williams to start for new-look Boks against Argentina

Veteran No 8 Duane Vermeulen will lead a new-look Springbok team in Saturday's Rugby Championship finale against Argentina at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg.

Depending on the outcome of the match between the Wallabies and All Blacks in Melbourne earlier in the day, the clash could be a tournament decider.

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has made nine changes in all to the starting team that went down 35-20 against the All Blacks in Auckland two weeks ago.

That includes a new and potentially explosive halfback pairing of flyhalf Manie Libbok and scrumhalf Grant Williams, with Williams set to make his first start for the team.

Nienaber has also selected an all-new loose forward trio of Vermeulen and flankers Pieter-Steph du Toit and Marco van Staden, who started the opening match of the competition against the Wallabies.

The other changes to the pack of forwards were at hooker, where Malcolm Marx takes over from Bongi Mbonambi, and lock, where Marvin Orie comes in for Lood de Jager.

In the backline, winger Kurt-Lee Arendse - who scored a hat-trick against Australia - returns to start in place of Makazole Mapimpi, while experienced centre Jesse Kriel will make his first appearance of the season in the midfield alongside vice-captain Damian de Allende.

Nienaber has opted for a five-three split on the bench this time around. Mbonambi, Trevor Nyakane, Vincent Koch, RG Snyman and Kwagga Smith provide forward cover, while Faf de Klerk, Lukhanyo Am and the versatile Damian Willemse have the backline covered.

"This is a quality team that will offer us the skills we need against Argentina," said Nienaber. "It also contains a good balance of experience and youth, which is vital as we build toward the Rugby World Cup.

"There are only four more matches before we kick off our Rugby World Cup campaign so it's a fine balancing act to give all the players a chance to stake a claim for places while selecting teams that we believe are best equipped for the opposition we'll face, and we're pleased with the way we've managed that process up to now.

"Obviously the result in New Zealand was bitterly disappointing, but we came into the season with a plan that will hopefully allow us to select the best possible squad for the World Cup and peak at the right time."

Nienaber said the team was resolute on bouncing back from their defeat against the All Blacks and to finish the Rugby Championship on a high note. He warned, however, that his charges had to fire from starting whistle, especially given the massive physical onslaught they expected from Argentina.

"The Pumas showed in their last two games that they can be a force to be reckoned with, so we have to be sharp from the get-go, be accurate in our execution on attack and defence, and use the opportunities we create. They pride themselves on their set pieces, they are very dangerous at exploiting your mistakes, and they never stop fighting which makes them a challenging opponent.

"But that said, we know where we went wrong in our last match, and we are determined to correct the wrongs from that day and get our season back on track.

"We are anticipating a hard-fought battle and we know we need to be focused for the full 80 minutes, but we are ready to go out there and give everything."

Nienaber said the fact that the match would mark their last on home soil this year made the match even more significant for the team.

"We saw in 2019 how passionate the nation is about the Springboks and hopefully we can make this a good send-off for the team," he added.

"The support we have enjoyed at Emirates Airline Park in the past has been phenomenal, and although we know our Rugby Championship hopes of are out of hands at the moment, it would be a memorable day if things go our way, and the match proves to be a decider."

Springboks - 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Grant Williams, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff.

Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Kwagga Smith, 20 RG Snyman, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Lukhanyo Am, 23 Damian Willemse.