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South Africa pick seven new caps for Wales Test

South Africa pick seven new caps for Wales Test

South Africa coach Johan  Rassie  Erasmus chose seven uncapped stars Wednesday for his first match in charge, a one-off Test against Wales in Washington Saturday.

Those set to wear the green and gold for the first time include backs Travis Ismaiel, Andre Esterhuizen, Makazole Mapimpi and Ivan van Zyl.

The other newcomers will be forwards Ox Nche, Jason Jenkins and Kwagga Smith as the Springboks embark on a 14-Test season that ends late November with another Test against Wales, in Cardiff.

“As coaches, we are tremendously excited about the prospect of seeing some of our best young players getting the opportunity to play at this level,” Erasmus told a media conference.

“Wales have a very solid and effective kicking strategy and their cohesive forward and set-piece play are some of their strong points.

“However, I believe that we have picked a match-day squad that will be able to compete very strongly.”

Erasmus succeeded sacked Allister Coetzee after South Africa lost 12 of 23 Tests during two disastrous seasons subsequent to coming third at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.

After Washington, South Africa host England in three Tests on consecutive Saturdays from June 9, and many likely first choices for the home series have remained in Johannesburg.

The team facing Wales has an average of only nine caps and will be led by debutant skipper Peter-Steph du Toit, whose 32 Tests make him the most senior player although only 25 years old.

Injuries to first choice skipper Warren Whiteley and his 2017 stand-in Eben Etzebeth forced Erasmus to name two new captains for the June Tests.

Du Toit hands over the reins after the Wales Test to Siya Kolisi, who will skipper the team against England, becoming the first black South African to fill the position in a Test.

Other “seniors” in the Washington side include centra Jesse Kriel, fly-half Elton Jantjies, hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle and flanker Oupa Mohoje.

Erasmus chose 11 blacks — seven starters and four replacements — in his matchday 23, keeping a promise to accelerate racial transformation in the national team.

Although only eight percent of the South African population is white, they have continued to fill the majority of Springbok positions to the increasing frustration of politicians.

A deal between rugby officials and the government demands that 50 percent of the South African team at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan be black.

South Africa have won 28, drawn one and lost four Tests against Wales, but three of the last four ended in victories for the Dragons .

Team (15-1)

Curwin Bosch (Coastal Sharks); Travis Ismaiel, Jesse Kriel (both Northern Bulls), Andre Esterhuizen, Makazole Mapimpi (both Sharks); Elton Jantjies (Golden Lions), Ivan van Zyl (Bulls); Daniel du Preez (Sharks), Oupa Mohoje (Central Cheetahs), Kwagga Smith (Lions); Pieter-Steph du Toit (Western Stormers, capt), Jason Jenkins (Bulls); Wilco Louw (Stormers), Chiliboy Ralepelle (Sharks), Ox Nche (Cheetahs)

Replacements: Akker van der Merwe (Sharks), Steven Kitshoff (Stormers), Thomas du Toit (Sharks), Marvin Orie (Lions), Sikhumbuzo Notshe (Stormers), Embrose Papier (Bulls), Robert du Preez (Sharks), Warrick Gelant (Bulls)

Non-playing reserves: Cameroon Wright (Sharks), Frans Malherbe, Nizaam Carr (both Stormers)  

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