Marvin Orie joins old schoolmate Eben Etzebeth in South Africa secondrow

James O’Connor tipped for Australia fullback role; Aaron Smith’s international season at an end

Marvin Orie will partner schoolboy friend Eben Etzebeth in the South Africa secondrow for the Rugby Championship game against Australia on Saturday. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Marvin Orie will partner schoolboy friend Eben Etzebeth in the South Africa secondrow for the Rugby Championship game against Australia on Saturday. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

 

South Africa will be without key lock Lood de Jager for the second Rugby Championship Test with Australia in Brisbane on Saturday, one of two changes by coach Jacques Nienaber for the must-win game.

De Jager suffered a concussion in the 28-26 defeat in the Gold Coast on Sunday and his absence will be keenly felt in the secondrow.

He has been replaced by the less experienced Marvin Orie, who will add to his six caps and partner schoolboy friend Eben Etzebeth at lock, the first time they have played together in a Test match.

“Lood’s experience will be missed, he has played 50 Tests and Marvin only six. But having said that, Marvin has played with Eben since schoolboy level and has experience in domestic rugby. We trust Marvin as a player and look forward to see what he can bring to the party,” Nienaber said.

Prop Trevor Nyakane takes over from Steven Kitshoff in the frontrow, with the latter dropping to the bench in the place of Ox Nche.

“Trevor played loosehead for us in the Argentina Test [earlier in the Rugby Championship] and sustained an ankle injury, but he is now back to full fitness. We all know how well Trevor played for us in the British & Irish Lions series and it’s nice to have him back,” Nienaber added.

“Steven’s experience off the bench will be valuable against the Wallabies, who place a big emphasis on the scrums, much like we do.”

The Boks are still without wing Cheslin Kolbe, who missed the defeat by Australia with a leg injury.

South Africa will likely have to win their remaining three games in the Rugby Championship to retain the title they won in 2019, which includes the fixture against the Wallabies and then two tests versus New Zealand.

James O’Connor has been backed to play fullback for Australia. Photograph: Chris Hyde/Getty Images
James O’Connor has been backed to play fullback for Australia. Photograph: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Australia’s James O’Connor has not played fullback at Test level in a decade but that has not stopped him being floated as a potential starter in the position against the Springboks.

With outhalf Quade Cooper unlikely to make way for O’Connor after his match-winning performance last week, former Wallabies have suggested coach Dave Rennie make room for both playmakers in his starting side at Lang Park.

“Whilst I understand the importance of structure you need that unpredictability in your team as well,” World Cup winner Chris Latham, once of Australia’s finest fullbacks, told reporters in Brisbane.

“I think having O’Connor, another strike weapon out there, Samu [Kerevi] with that direct running and that ability to offload . . . I think that mix-up again will just make the Boks think, ‘If we rush, we’re going to get hurt. So we have to wait.’

“Then you get that indecision and that’s where opportunities start.”

O’Connor started his Test career as a fullback but last played in the position against Russia at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand. He has played at outhalf under Rennie after a stint at centre during the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

O’Connor is yet to play a Test this season due to injury but is expected to be available for selection this week.

All Blacks scrumhalf Aaron Smith’s international season may be over after he elected to stay home in New Zealand for the birth of his second child, while captain Sam Cane is in a race to be fit for the team’s northern hemisphere tour.

Test centurion Smith will miss the rest of the Rugby Championship and may not link up with the squad when they head north to the United States and Europe, he said on Wednesday.

Smith’s baby is not due until November but he is concerned he may not be able to return home quickly from Australia if hotel quarantine beds are in short supply as part of New Zealand’s Covid-19 restrictions.

He will instead play in New Zealand’s domestic NPC competition.

Flanker Cane, out of action since March due to a torn pectoral muscle and other complications, is training with his provincial side but may not be ready to play for three-four weeks, Bay of Plenty coach Daryl Gibson told New Zealand radio.

SOUTH AFRICA: W le Roux; S Nkosi, L Am, D de Allende, M Mapimpi; H Pollard, F de Klerk; T Nyakane, B Mbonambi, F Malherbe; E Etzebeth, M Orie; S Kolisi (capt), F Mostert, D Vermeulen.

Replacements: M Marx, S Kitshoff, V Koch, M van Staden, K Smith, J Wiese, H Jantjies, D Willemse.

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