Moodie at center in revamped Springbok side for All Blacks World Cup warm-up
South Africa’s Canan Moodie is set to make his first Test start in midfield after the wing was named at outside centre in a team to play New Zealand in a World Cup warm-up at Twickenham on Friday.
Moodie scored two of the world champions’ eight tries in a 52-16 warm-up rout of Wales in Cardiff on Saturday, taking the talented 20-year’s old tally to four tries from seven Tests.
But he has been moved inside to partner Andre Esterhuizen in the centers, with Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber making several changes to the side for their latest clash with arch-rivals the All Blacks.
Makazole Mapimpi, a try-scorer in South Africa’s 2019 World Cup final win over England in Japan, and Kurt-Lee Arendse have been named on the left and right wings respectively, with Damian Willemse starting at full-back.
Faf de Klerk, who steered the Springboks to Webb Ellis Trophy glory in a 32-12 defeat of England in Yokohama four years ago, returns at scrum-half to partner stand-off Manie Libbok.
There is a changed lock pairing of Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert, while veteran No 8 Duane Vermeulen starts in the back row after coming off the bench in Cardiff.
World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi, who played the whole of the first half against Wales in his first match back following a partial tear of his anterior cruciate ligament in April, will again lead the Springboks.
- ‘Intensity’ –
The Springboks were caught cold when they last played the All Blacks in July, with New Zealand racing into an early 17-0 lead before winning 35-20 in Auckland.
“The All Blacks will provide a different challenge to Wales, and we believe this group of players is the right mix for this match,” said Nienaber after announcing his team on Monday.
“New Zealand play a high-tempo game, and they turn on the intensity from the starting whistle as they showed in Auckland, so it’s vital that we start well this week.
“We took the lessons from that match, and we’ve built good momentum since, so this will be a fantastic test before we enter our Rugby World Cup campaign.”
A capacity crowd of some 80,000 is expected at Twickenham, where the teams have met once before — with the All Blacks edging a 2015 World Cup semi-final 20-18 en route to lifting the Webb Ellis Trophy.
“The rivalry between the Springboks and All Blacks is one of the most intense in world rugby, so it’s a great way for us to wrap up our warm-up matches before heading to France for the World Cup,” said Nienaber, whose side are in a tough pool alongside top-ranked Ireland and Scotland.
“This match may be on neutral ground, but we expect it to be as epic as every other Test between the teams. They are a quality team with several playmakers and physical forwards, and they’ll give everything on Friday.”
The All Blacks are due to name their team on Wednesday.
South Africa and New Zealand, the only teams to win the men’s Rugby World Cup three times, are in the same half of the draw for this year’s edition, which starts next month.
Depending on pool results, the two rugby union superpowers could meet each other again in the quarter-finals.
South Africa (15-1)
Damian Willemse; Kurt-Lee Arendse, Canan Moodie, Andre Esterhuizen, Makazole Mapimpi; Manie Libbok, Faf de Klerk; Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (capt); Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth; Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane, Jean Kleyn, RG Snyman, Marco van Staden, Cobus Reinach, Willie le Roux
Coach: Jacques Nienaber (RSA)
By Julian Guyer
©️ Agence France-Presse