Cheslin Kolbe has been declared fit for South Africa’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Japan after overcoming an ankle injury.
The star winger missed the Springboks’ final pool match against Canada but has been restored to the side for Sunday, as coach Rassie Erasmus opts for the team that defeated Italy 49-3 a fortnight ago.
It means 13 changes are made from the team that hammered Canada last weekend with hat-trick hero Cobus Reinach left out of the 23-man-squad completely.
Duane Vermeulen wins cap number 50 as a number eight for the Springboks.
Sunday’s clash is a repeat of the 2015 World Cup Group B clash where Japan stunned the two-time champions with a 34-32 win in Brighton and Erasmus was looking forward to another tough challenge from the hosts.
— Springboks (@Springboks) October 17, 2019
“We were satisfied with the performance against Italy and want to build that,” he said during Thursday’s team announcement.
“We have been improving and building momentum this season and will be looking for further improvement this weekend.
“Japan are a well-coached team and have deservedly climbed to seventh in the world. It will be a good challenge but we’re definitely up for it.”
A place in the semi-finals next Sunday is at stake, with the winner of South Africa and Japan facing off against either Wales or France.
South Africa: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Tendai Mtawarira, Mbongeni Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Duane Vermeulen.
Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, RG Snyman, Franco Mostert, Francois Louw, Herschel Jantjies, Frans Steyn.