Springboks welcome back captain Siya Kolisi for Wales clash in Cardiff

Springboks welcome back captain Siya Kolisi for Wales clash in Cardiff

The Springboks have named their side to face Wales in Cardiff on Saturday, headlined by the return of World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi just in the nick of time.

South African fans breathed a collective sigh of relief when Kolisi was included in the Boks' World Cup squad last week, and true to the word from the Bok camp these last few months, he has returned to full fitness in time to lead the side for the first of their two remaining World Cup warm-up matches at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday.

Also back in the side for the first time this season are prop forward Ox Nche and scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse. Nche makes his return from injury while Hendrikse makes his first appearance of the season following a family bereavement.

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has named an experienced combination as he looked to start building momentum and cohesiveness within his squad for the tournament, which kicks off in France on Friday 8 September.

In all, there are 11 changes to the starting team that defeated Argentina 24-13 in Buenos Aires two weekends ago.

The front row of Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe and Malcolm Marx are set to reunite for the second time this season, while the Muster lock duo of Jean Kleyn and RG Snyman will start together in Springbok jerseys for the first time.

The loose trio also has a new look to it, with Kolisi and Pieter-Steph du Toit partnering up with Jasper Wiese in the other changes in the forward pack - reforming a combination that last appeared together against Ireland in November.

In the backline, Hendrikse will take the field alongside regular flyhalf Manie Libbok, while Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel form the midfield combination. Cheslin Kolbe comes in on the left wing where he will form an exciting back three with veteran fullback Willie le Roux and right wing Canan Moodie.

Nienaber opted for a six-two split in favour of forwards on the bench, where Nche and Vincent Koch will provide cover at prop and Bongi Mbonambi - who captained the team in the last Test against Argentina - at hooker, while the physical trio of Franco Mostert, Marco van Staden and Duane Vermeulen will also be ready to make an impact off the bench.

The two backs among the replacements are Grant Williams, who can provide cover at scrumhalf and wing, and Damian Willemse, who can slot in at flyhalf, centre and fullback.

"We have two Tests left before we begin our Rugby World Cup campaign and our focus now is to start building momentum and continuity so that we can peak at the right time for our opening game against Scotland in just under four weeks," said Nienaber.

"We gave most of the players in the expanded squad a run in the last four matches and they are now battle hardened and we know anyone in this squad can step in and rise to the challenge whenever they are selected."

Nienaber was excited to welcome back Kolisi and Nche from injury and said: "Siya and Ox have been working extremely hard on their rehabilitation over the course of several weeks, and it's fantastic that everything worked out according to plan to allow us to select them for this match.

"They have two matches to build up their match fitness before the World Cup, and although it will be important to manage their load in the match, it's vital that they return to the field as they are key players in our set-up."

The Bok coach was also delighted to hand Hendrikse a start and said: "Jaden was unfortunate not to play in the last few weeks, but he is a top-class player and he's been training hard, so we are pleased that he'll finally get his chance this weekend. Unlike Siya and Ox, he's been training fully with us for weeks, so it's a matter of getting back into game mode for him."

Nienaber expected a physical onslaught from Wales and said the team needed to be ready mentally and physically for the challenge.

"Wales are a gutsy team, and similarly to the Pumas, they don't hold back," said Nienaber. "So, we need to be up for the match physically and get into every battle from the get-go. They'll also draw confidence from the fact that they won four of their last five games against us at home, but we did well to grind out a win against them last year, so we expect it to be an epic battle."

Springboks - 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Canan Moodie, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff.

Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Duane Vermeulen, 22 Grant Williams, 23 Damian Willemse.

READ MORE: World Cup-bound Jean Kleyn was content with never playing for Springboks