South Africa face the Bulls on Saturday in their final warm-up match before the Test series against the British and Irish Lions.
It is the first of two matches to be held in Cape Town, and precedes the British and Irish Lions’ clash with the Stormers at 5pm (UK time).
What time is South Africa A v Bulls?
South Africa A v Vodacom Bulls kicks off at noon UK time/1pm local time on Saturday, July 17, at Cape Town Stadium.
What TV channel is South Africa A v Bulls on?
In South Africa, both South Africa A v Bulls and Stormers v Lions will be broadcast live on SuperSport.
It doesn’t appear to have been picked up by a UK broadcaster.
What is the South Africa A v Bulls team news?
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has made wholesale changes to the team which beat the Lions in midweek, with fly-half Elton Jantjies leading the squad that features nine Rugby World Cup winners.
Nienaber, who made the trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town on Friday morning with a host of players who will begin their return-to-play protocols after recovering from Covid, made 12 changes to the starting team as players try to stake a claim for the Test series.
Damian de Allende (centre), Marco van Staden (flank) and Joseph Dweba (hooker) retain their places from the win over the Lions.
Aphelele Fassi (full-back), Rosko Specman (wing), Cobus Reinach (scrum-half), Kwagga Smith (No. 8), all of whom started in the Test against Georgia two weeks ago, are back in the starting lineup.
Fassi, who made his Test debut at wing, is named in a back three alongside Specman and the uncapped Yaw Penxe, while centre Wandisile Simelane partners the experienced De Allende in midfield.
Nienaber named a physical loose trio featuring Smith, Rynhardt Elstadt and Van Staden, while Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg is promoted from the bench to start alongside Jean-Luc du Preez in the second row.
Dweba, meanwhile, will pack down with vice-captain Vincent Koch and Coenie Oosthuizen in the front row.
As for the Bulls, Nizaam Carr leads the side in the No. 6 jersey, while Johan Goosen named at fly-half for his debut.
Springbok Cornal Hendricks partners Harold Vorster in midfield.
Simphiwe Matanzima, Schalk Erasmus and Jacques van Rooyen start in the front row, while Walt Steenkamp and Ruan Nortje pair in the second row.
South Africa A: 15. Aphelele Fassi, 14. Yaw Penxe, 13. Wandisile Simelane, 12. Damian de Allende, 11. Rosko Specman, 10. Elton Jantjies (captain), 9. Cobus Reinach, 1. Coenie Oosthuizen, 2. Joseph Dweba, 3. Vincent Koch, 4. Jean-Luc du Preez, 5. Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 6. Marco van Staden, 7. Rynhardt Elstadt, 8. Kwagga Smith.
Replacements: 16. Fez Mbatha, 17. Thomas du Toit, 18. Wilco Louw, 19. Japser Wiese, 20. Sanele Nohamba, 21. Sbu Nkosi, 22. Jesse Kriel, 23. Damian Willemse, 24. Lizo Gqoboka.
Vodacom Bulls: 15. FC du Plessis, 14. Marco Jansen van Vuren, 13. Harold Vorster, 12. Cornal Hendricks, 11. Stravino Jacobs, 10. Johan Goosen, 9. Zak Burger, 1. Simphiwe Matanzima, 2. Schalk Erasmus, 3. Jacques van Rooyen, 4. Walt Steenkamp, 5. Ruan Nortje, 6. Nizaam Carr (captain), 7. Muller Uys, 8. WJ Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16. Johan Grobbelaar, 17. Gerhard Steenekamp, 18. Mornay Smith, 19. Janko Swanepoel, 20. Arno Botha, 21. Keagan Johannes, 22. Chris Smith, 23. David Kriel.
Who is the referee?
Marius van der Westhuizen will be the referee in this match, with Rasta Rasivhenge and Aimee Barrett-Theron his assistants, while Marius Jonker is the TMO.
What have the coaches said?
“We wanted another SA ‘A’ match to give all the players a chance to show what they are capable of before we enter the Test Series against the British and Irish Lions, and we are excited to give these players this valuable opportunity,” said Nienaber.
“With several changes to the matchday squad, there won’t be much continuity from Wednesday’s match, but the game time and the chance for these players to show what they can offer on the field will be invaluable with an eye on improving our match fitness and building momentum before we enter the Test Series.”
Nienaber was thrilled to be back with the squad after having to watch the SA ‘A’ team take on the Lions from Johannesburg and said: “It’s great to be back with the squad and to be able to interact with the players and management staff.
“I joined all our coaching sessions and team meetings online during my Covid-19 isolation period, so it is a real pleasure to be back in the team set-up and coaching on the field.”
The Bok coach looked forward to the clash and said: “The Vodacom Bulls have been a force to be reckoned with in domestic rugby since rugby resumed late last year after a long absence due to the Covid-19 pandemic, so we are expecting a good match-up.
“We want to make the most of this opportunity to build on our structures and systems and also to tick certain boxes before the Test matches against the British and Irish Lions.”
Vodacom Bulls director of rugby Jake White said: “The opportunity to be called in as opposition for the South Africa ‘A’ side is one we could not refuse.
“We will be going out to give it our best shot, with the intention of not only providing good opposition for them, but also building and growing together as the Vodacom Bulls side.”
Is Siya Kolisi fit?
South Africa will give World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi every chance to recover from Covid-19 in time for the first Test against the British and Irish Lions.
Inspirational leader Kolisi tested positive for coronavirus on July 11 and immediately went into a 10-day isolation period.
The back-rower missed South Africa A’s 17-13 win over the Lions on Wednesday and remains unavailable for the Springboks’ A side’s clash with the Bulls.
Kolisi now faces a race against time to be available for the first Test in Cape Town on Saturday, July 24, due to return-to-play protocols.
But head coach Jacques Nienaber has confirmed the Springboks are keeping an open mind on selection despite having dealt with more than 20 Covid cases in their camp.
Asked if he would consider selecting players for the first Test who had been unable to feature in this week’s two A team fixtures, Nienaber replied: “Yes, definitely.
“When we select the players that haven’t played up to now it must be somebody who physically has proved to us that he can do it.
“So let’s say it’s a player that hasn’t played – we must have the comfort in the player that this scenario has happened before, and we have put the player in a game without him being exposed to a lot of game time, or to our systems, and he’s produced before.
“That will be one of the only reasons why we’ll do that.
“And also if it’s a player that has been in our system for a long time, that understands what we are trying to achieve.
“It will be tough for a player who has been part of us for a while but who hasn’t played for us ever – it will be tough for them, getting used to the way we do things.
“So yes, it will be an option but it won’t be the norm, it will be outliers.
“The players know and we’re quite open and honest and transparent on our selection process, and physical readiness is one of the top things.
“And physically means you’ve got to be medically fit and conditioning-wise fit and we must have the opportunity to have coached you.
“So that’s probably one of the big things that we will look at.”