Rugby Championship

Lood must show Boks what they've missed

2017-10-06 11:07
Lood de Jager (Gallo)

Cape Town - It's been a frustrating couple of years for Lood de Jager, who has had to deal with injury as well as serious competition in the Springbok second row. 

The result is that the 24-year-old has featured just three times in national colours in 2017, with all of those caps coming off the bench. 

But, on Saturday, the 2015 South African Player of the Year has a chance to show coach Allister Coetzee what he has been missing out on. 

De Jager comes into the starting line-up against the All Blacks at Newlands at the expense of Franco Mostert, who drops to the bench after having been backed by Coetzee for most of the international season so far. 

With Pieter-Steph du Toit moving into the No 7 jersey, the Boks all of a sudden boast three very tall lineout options for Saturday's clash. 

This will be De Jager's first start in Bok colours since last year's loss to Wales in Cardiff.

"I'm excited for the weekend. It's been a while since I've actually started for the Boks, so it's a big occasion on Saturday and hopefully we can do well as a team," he said from the Springbok team hotel on Thursday.

De Jager acknowledged it had been a frustrating time, but he kept his head down and trained as well as he could while he was on the sidelines. 

"The team is bigger than the individual and the coach always selects the team he thinks is best for the weekend," he said.

"All I could do was just work hard and wait for an opportunity and now I've got that for Saturday.

"You can only control what you can control. I don't select the team."

One of De Jager's three bench appearance so far this year came in the 57-0 hammering at the hands of the All Blacks in Albany.

The Boks lost numerous lineouts that day.

"They are a world class lineout unit and they put pressure on, but we just need to focus on what we can control and execute," De Jager said.

"We prepare every game to go out and execute the plan as best we can. The massive thing for us this weekend is not to emphasise the game too much and make a big deal out of it.

"It's going to be a big occasion, but we just need to do what we do and do the best we can."

Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:05.

Teams:

South Africa

15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Francois Louw, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6, Siya Kolisi, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff

Substitutes: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Handre Pollard, 23 Damian de Allende

New Zealand

15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Kane Hames

Substitutes: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 David Havili

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