SA ‘A’ coach Johan Ackermann made wholesale changes to his team for Friday’s final match against the England Saxons in George and has called on his charges to end the two-match series with a win against a formidable opponent.
The match kicks off at 19h10 at Outeniqua Park in the picturesque Southern Cape and will be broadcast live on SuperSport.
Although they lost the first match last Friday in Bloemfontein, mainly because of a luke-warm first-half performance, Ackermann’s team finished this match strongly and “won” the second half 21-10.
“This is the kind of urgency I’ll be looking for from the players,” said Ackermann.
“We tried things, but ultimately the first-half performance in Bloemfontein cost us dearly. If we can start on Friday like we finished off last week – bar that last try the Saxons scored – I know we can put together a much better show in George.
“I can also sense that the players are gelling a better on the training field having spent more time together and they know what is expected of them this weekend. If we can sharpen up on defence and look after the ball a bit better, the rest will come.”
Ackermann said the big number of changes was mainly made to afford every member of the squad playing time.
“These guys have worked incredibly hard over the last 10 days or so and all of them deserve an opportunity to get a taste of what international rugby is all about,” said Ackermann.
“Having said that, I believe we’ve put together a great side with some key combinations from their franchises teams for Friday’s match. There are some very good players in this squad and I’m excited for the challenge this weekend – as are they.”
At the back, Sergeal Petersen, Lukhanyo Am, Francois Brummer and Piet van Zyl will start in the places of Travis Ismaiel, Howard Mnisi, Garth April and Nic Groom respectively. Ismaiel and Mnisi are on the bench with Ntando Kebe.
Upfront, Arno Botha, Jean-Luc du Preez, RG Snyman, Jason Jenkins, Marcel van der Merwe and Malcolm Marx are in the starting line-up, replacing Nizaam Carr, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Stephan Lewies, JD Schickerling, Vincent Koch and Scarra Ntubeni.
Carr and Schickerling move to the replacements bench, where they will be joined by Edgar Marutlulle.
The SA ‘A’ team to face the England Saxons in George:
15. Leolin Zas (DHL Stormers)
14. Sergeal Petersen (Toyota Cheetahs)
13. Francois Venter (vice-captain, Toyota Cheetahs)
12. Lukhanyo Am (Southern Kings/Cell C Sharks)
11. Courtnall Skosan (Emirates Lions)
10. Francois Brummer (Vodacom Bulls/Steval Pumas)
9. Piet van Zyl (Vodacom Bulls)
8. Arno Botha (Vodacom Bulls)
7. Oupa Mohoje (captain, Toyota Cheetahs)
6. Jean-Luc du Preez (Cell C Sharks)
5. RG Snyman (Vodacom Bulls)
4. Jason Jenkins (Vodacom Bulls)
3. Marcel van der Merwe (Vodacom Bulls)
2. Malcolm Marx (Emirates Lions)
1. Thomas du Toit (Cell C Sharks)
16. Edgar Marutlulle (Southern Kings)
17. Coenie Oosthuizen (Cell C Sharks)
18. Lizo Gqoboka (Vodacom Bulls)
19. JD Schickerling (DHL Stormers)
20. Nizaam Carr (DHL Stormers)
21. Ntando Kebe (Southern Kings)
22. Howard Mnisi (Emirates Lions)
23. Travis Ismaiel (Vodacom Bulls)