Springboks change 14 for Pumas rematch in Buenos Aires

South Africa and Argentina went down to the wire to conclude the Rugby Championship

Hooker Bongi Mbonambi will lead a new-look South Africa side in their Rugby World Cup warm-up fixture against Argentina in Buenos Aires on Saturday, with a potential debut off the bench for prop Gerhard Steenekamp.

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber made 10 changes for the team's second match of the season in New Zealand and then nine for the narrow 22-21 Rugby Championship victory against Argentina in Johannesburg last weekend.

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He has continued to cast his net wide and manage the minutes of the players with a further 14 changes for Saturday's test.

The only one to retain their place is five-eighth Manie Libbok, with regular starter Handre Pollard still working his way back from injury.

Steenekamp, in the squad as cover for the injured Ox Nche, will likely earn his first cap off the bench in the final game before Nienaber names his squad for their World Cup title defence in France next Tuesday.

"We've been emphasising the importance of giving as many players as possible a fair chance to show what they can do with an eye on finalising our Rugby World Cup squad," Nienaber said.

Mbonambi will become the second black Test captain of South Africa. In 2018, Siya Kolisi became the first black player to skipper South Africa in a Test, leading his country to victory over England after trailing by 21 points during the first half.

Black players were excluded from the South African national team for 90 years until Errol Tobias was capped against Ireland in 1981.

Thereafter, progress toward a team that better reflected the demographics of a nation where 90 percent of the population is black was slow until Rassie Erasmus became coach five years ago.

Kolisi and Mbonambi were among six black starters in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final triumph over England in Japan.

Flanker Kolisi is recovering from a knee injury and was unavailable for the trip to South America, which will be followed by warm-up Tests against Wales and New Zealand in Europe. 

Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber says he is hopeful that Kolisi and fly-half Handre Pollard, sidelined by a calf injury, will play against Wales and or New Zealand.  

The Boks scraped a barely deserved win at Ellis Park on Saturday as they withstood intense pressure from Argentina, and will expect a backlash from the home side.

South Africa (15-1): Damian Willemse; Canan Moodie, Lukhanyo Am, Andre Esterhuizen, Makazole Mapimpi; Manie Libbok, Cobus Reinach; Jasper Wiese, Franco Mostert, Deon Fourie; Marvin Orie, Jean Kleyn; Thomas du Toit, Bongi Mbonambi (c), Trevor Nyakane

Replacements: Joseph Dweba, Gerhard Steenekamp, Vincent Koch, Jean-Luc du Preez, Evan Roos,Herschel Jantjies, Jesse Kriel, Kurt-Lee Arendse