- All Blacks coach Ian Foster isn’t too concerned about the minor changes the Springboks have made to their side for Saturday’s test at Mbombela Stadium.
- Foster has made a slew of changes as the All Blacks have to find an answer after losing their first-ever home series to Ireland.
- Foster also chose to start with Caleb Clarke on the left – as a direct opponent to Kurt-Lee Arendse.
Kurt-Lee Arendse is an unknown greatness to the All Blacks, but their coach Ian Foster is more focused on the Springbok collective, like most coaches.
He has commissioned Caleb Clarke to look after Arendse for Saturday’s first Rugby Championship test between the All Blacks and the Springboks at Mbombela Stadium.
The two wingers go head-to-head for the first time as hometown hero Faf de Klerk takes the start alongside whore Malcolm Marx, who will begin his 50th test.
READ | All Blacks coach Foster calls for man: ‘The Boks are not one-trick ponies’
Foster didn’t see their returns as big changes, but looked to the long-term plan the Boks are setting up for next year’s title defense in France.
“Not much really, but in terms of the changes, I don’t think Faf coming back is a change,” Foster said.
“He’s an excellent nine and has been a big part of their game. With Marx starting and not coming off the bench, it probably isn’t that important.
“You still have to deal with him at some point, but you know they have a formula and they’re trying to keep the same group they had until the World Cup.
“If you change one or two people it won’t make that much of a difference because whoever is there will have a great game and play well.
“The great thing is, we’re going to have to be at our best to deal with it.”
Clarke, son of former All Black and Auckland Blues player Eroni, has not been added to his five 2020 Test caps due to a string of injuries.
He is one of many changes Foster has made in response to last month’s 32-22 loss to Ireland in Wellington, which saw them take their first loss in a three-game series since 1986.
Keeping Clarke was still a big challenge for Foster, but with Shannon Frizzell and Samisoni Taukei’aho in Day 23, Foster hoped for more physicality.
15 Damian Willemse, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lead de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Trevor Nyakane
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Franco Mostert, 21 Kwagga Smith, 22 Jaden Hendrikse, 23 Willie le Roux
15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 David Havili, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (Captain), 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock , 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 George Bower
Substitutes: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Ethan de Groot, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Tupou Vaa’i, 20 Shannon Frizell, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Richie Mo’unga, 23 Quinn Tupaea
“It’s great to have him back and there are a few niggles that kept a few people out in July,” Foster said.
“He’s one, Shannon Frizzell was the other, and in Caleb’s case, he had a hamstring, but he’s a wiggler and he can’t sit still.
ALSO READ | Laerskool Bergland, where ‘Faffie’ and other Springbok and Proteas seeds germinated
“He’s always bouncing, dancing or doing something, which isn’t always the best thing to do when you’re dealing with a hamstring injury.
“We’ve leashed him and told him to sit still for a while, but he’s ready to go. He hasn’t played for a while, so the most important thing is to be himself and have a smile on his face.”
“He’s an excellent winger and we have to get the ball in his hands and we have to get him involved. If that happens there will be some good moments.”