Japan vs South Africa : South Africa’s Cheslin Kolbe has returned from an ankle injury to be named in the starting side for Sunday’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final against hosts Japan.
Kolbe scored twice against Italy but picked up an injury and was kept out of the Springboks’ final Pool B match against Canada as a precaution to ensure he was ready for the quarters.
Coach Rassie Erasmus had rotated his squad through the pool stages but has settled on the same match squad that played against Italy, with a 6-2 split between forwards and backs in the replacements.
“A lot of guys put up their hands and played really well, and we wanted to get some continuity into the team,” said Erasmus.
“There were a few difficult selections, but we felt given what we achieved against Italy and in the interests of combinations and continuity this was the best team to pick.
“The way Japan play is that they do exploit your tired and bigger forward defenders late in the first and second half so we think with our selection, two fresh forwards might nullify that space they want to use.”
He added that the selection of Bongi Mbonambi as the starting hooker with Malcolm Marx coming off the bench was due to the pace that they expected Japan to play.
Mbonambi was better suited for a tighter role while Marx would be better “when the game opened up.”
Captain Siya Kolisi will start his third match in succession, and play his fifth game at the tournament, after he returned from an injury-ravaged season in the Springboks’ tournament opener against the All Blacks.
“We will probably try and play the game at our pace, and they will try and play at theirs,” Erasmus said. “It will be a great tactical battle.
“There are a lot of expectations in a quarter-final and it’s who handles the pressure the best.”
South Africa: 1-Tendai Mtawarira, 2-Bongi Mbonambi, 3-Frans Malherbe, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 5-Lood de Jager, 6-Siya Kolisi (c), 7-Pieter-Steph du Toit, 8-Duane Vermeulen, 9-Faf de Klerk, 10-Handré Pollard,11-Makazole Mapimpi, 12-Damian de Allende, 13-Lukhanyo Am, 14-Cheslin Kolbe, 15-Willie Le Roux
Reserves: 16-Malcolm Marx, 17-Steven Kitshoff, 18-Vincent Koch, 19-RG Snyman, 20-Franco Mostert, 21-Francois Louw, 22-Herschel Jantjies, 23-Frans Steyn