Five DHL Stormers in Bok side to face Wales

PUBLISHED: June 18, 2024

There are five DHL Stormers in the matchday 23 for the Springboks’ opening Test of the 2024 season, against Wales in London on Saturday.

Forwards Frans Malherbe, Salmaan Moerat, Evan Roos and Ben-Jason Dixon are joined by back Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu in the lineup for the Springboks’ first international since lifting the Webb Ellis Cup in France in October last year.

Rugby World Cup-winning prop Vincent Koch will earn his 50th Test cap on Saturday in the starting XV named by Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus that will be captained by flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit and features four uncapped players.

Edwill van der Merwe (wing) and Jordan Hendrikse (flyhalf) are the two uncapped players named in run-on team – which features a good balance of youth and experience – while Dixon and Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu are the two new faces on the replacements bench.

A total of 10 players in the matchday squad featured in the 2023 Rugby World Cup final, while 16 players were members of the Rugby World Cup squad.

Erasmus welcomed back experienced hooker Malcolm Marx, who last ran out for the team in their opening World Cup encounter against Scotland before suffering a knee injury at training which ruled him out of further tournament action.

Thirty players will travel to London on Wednesday night, with those outside of the matchday squad being Manie Libbok (flyhalf), RG Snyman (lock) – both RWC winners – Neethling Fouche (prop), Phepsi Buthelezi (loose forward), Ethan Hooker (centre), Quan Horn (fullback), and Andre-Hugo Venter (hooker).

Five players in the starting team featured in the same positions in the international extravaganza at Stade de France in October last year, where the Springboks pipped the All Blacks 12-11 to be crowned world champions for the second time in a row. They are the duo of Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert, Du Toit, Faf de Klerk and Jesse Kriel – who has been named as the vice-captain for this match.

Erasmus opted for a five-three split in favour of the forwards on the replacements bench, which includes four Rugby World Cup winners – Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Grant Williams, and Damian de Allende respectively.

“This is an exciting playing squad and travelling group, and we are looking forward to seeing how the uncapped players step up at top international level and how we execute what we’ve been working on at training in the last few days and at the alignment camps,” said Erasmus. “The likes of Edwill, Jordan, Ben-Jason, and Sacha have really impressed us at training, and we believe they have what it takes to make their presence felt against a quality team such as Wales.

“They will be surrounded by several experienced campaigners – some of whom are Rugby World Cup winners – so they will have enough guidance on the field to fulfil their roles even when the pressure is on. It is equally exciting for us to see players such as Aphelele [Fassi], Evan, Ntuthuko [Mchunu], and Salmaan back in the green in gold after earning their stripes in the last few seasons.”

Erasmus was confident that the remaining members of the travelling squad would benefit immensely from being exposed to the Test environment and to experience first-hand what is required of them during a Test week, and he had no doubt it would also bode well for the team as the Boks prepare for the 2024 season with a long-term view on the 2027 World Cup in Australia.

Commenting on the decision to hand Du Toit the captaincy, Erasmus said it was not only well deserved, but also personal for the player since the first and only time he led the team was against Wales in Washington in 2018 – a Test the Boks lost 22-20.

“Pieter-Steph has been a key figure in our system for several years now and he’s a player who leads by example on the field,” said Erasmus. “We have a strong core of senior players in this group, and we had a few options for captain, but we feel Pieter-Steph will be the right man to lead the team this week.

“He has captained the Springboks only once before and that was against Wales in 2018, and after that result, we believe it will make this match even more personal for him. Over and above that, he has immense respect from his team-mates and the coaches, and we know he will accept this responsibility with great pride.”

Springbok team to face Wales at Twickenham:

15 Aphelele Fassi (Hollywoodbets Sharks), 14 Edwill van der Merwe (Emirates Lions), 13 Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles), 12 Andre Esterhuizen (Harlequins), 11 Makazole Mapimpi (Hollywoodbets Sharks), 10 Jordan Hendrikse (Emirates Lions), 9 Faf de Klerk (Canon Eagles), 8 Evan Roos (DHL Stormers), 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit (captain, Toyota Verblitz), 6 Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs), 5 Franco Mostert (Honda Heat), 4 Eben Etzebeth (Hollywoodbets Sharks), 3 Vincent Koch (Hollywoodbets Sharks), 2 Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears), 1 Ox Nche (Hollywoodbets Sharks).
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi (Hollywoodbets Sharks), 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu (Hollywoodbets Sharks), 18 Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers), 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Ben-Jason Dixon, 21 Grant Williams (Hollywoodbets Sharks), 22 Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (DHL Stormers), 23 Damian de Allende (Wild Knights).