Kolbe returns as Springboks’ sole change for England final
Springbok talisman Cheslin Kolbe has shaken off an ankle injury to return for South Africa in Saturday’s World Cup final.
Kolbe’s return on the right wing is a major boost for head coach Rassie Erasmus and is the sole change to the matchday 23 that downed Wales in the semi-finals.
The Toulouse flyer missed the Wales clash with an ankle problem sustained in the Springboks’ quarter-final win over Japan.
That means that Sbu Nkosi drops out of the matchday 23 altogether while Siya Kolisi captains the side from the back row and will win his 50th cap on Saturday.
“Chessie is fully fit and ready to go,” said Erasmus.
“It’s tough on Sbu to drop out of the 23 altogether but, like the other seven, non-playing squad members – and the two injured players back home [Trevor Nyakane and Jesse Kriel] – he has made vital contributions to our campaign.
“But we have been developing some momentum through the tournament, which has come from consistency, and although we know there are things we can do better this is a fit, well-practiced set of combinations who know what they have to do on Saturday.”
Kolisi is joined in the back row by Pieter-Steph du Toit and Duane Vermeueln with Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager in the second row and Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira and Frans Malherbe up front.
Faf de Klerk and Handre Pollard continue their half-back pairing with Kolbe joining Willie Le Roux and Makazole Mapimpi in the back three.
The centres remain Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am, and Erasmus has asked his side for one last push.
“Getting to this stage is not enough for this team,” said Erasmus.
“We now have what may be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to become world champions – something that would mean so much to our country and our people.
“We know the excitement that there is back home and that the country may well be coming to a standstill on Saturday lunchtime in South Africa. There’s a huge weight of expectation.
✅ Cheslin Kolbe back for RWC final
5⃣0⃣-up for Siya Kolisi
🇿🇦 Boks going into final with momentum
— Springboks (@Springboks) October 31, 2019
“We may not be favourites but these players will leave nothing in the tank. We know how the wins in 1995 and 2007 lifted the country – even if it was momentarily. We want to give South Africa that experience once again.”
Erasmus has stuck to his six-two bench, with Franco Mostert, RG Snyman and Francois Louw all lying in wait in the forwards and Herschel Jantjies and Frans Steyn covering the backs.
Springbok starting XV to face England:
15. Willie Le Roux
14. Cheslin Kolbe
13. Lukhanyo Am
12. Damian de Allende
11. Makazole Mapimpi
10. Handre Pollard
9. Faf de Klerk
1. Tendai Mtawarira
2. Mbongeni Mbonambi
3. Frans Malherbe
4. Eben Etzebeth
5. Lood de Jager
6. Siya Kolisi (c)
7. Pieter-Steph Du Toit
8. Duane Vermeulen
16. Malcolm Marx
17. Steven Kitshoff
18. Vincent Koch
19. RG Snyman
20. Franco Mostert
21. Francois Louw
22. Herschel Jantjies
23. Frans Steyn