Springboks Du Toit, De Klerk to miss series decider against Lions

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South Africa skipper and flanker Siya Kolisi (L) and winger Makazole Mapimpi (R) try to dispossess British and Irish Lions scrum-half Conor Murray during the second Test in Cape Town last weekend
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Rugby World Cup winners Pieter-Steph du Toit and Faf de Klerk will miss the series-deciding third Test against the British and Irish Lions in Cape Town on Saturday due to injury.

Duane Vermeulen, the number eight hoping to make a miraculous comeback after a serious ankle injury, did not make the matchday 23 despite training with the squad on Monday.

Reigning World Rugby Player of the Year Du Toit was ruled out by a shoulder injury sustained after a late tackle from Duhan van der Merwe in last Saturday's 27-9 win in the second Test.

His loose forward place goes to Franco Mostert who moves from the second row with Lood de Jager, a replacement in the second Test, coming into the starting XV for the world champions.

"With Pieter-Steph out, we are fortunate to have experienced players such as Franco and Lood who can step in and have the physical presence we need in those roles," said head coach Jacques Nienaber.

In a surprise move when the team was announced on Tuesday, Cobus Reinach comes in at scrum-half with De Klerk sidelined by a leg muscle strain.

Herschel Jantjies, the reserve scrum-half in the first two Tests, was expected to step up, but remains among the replacements instead.

"Cobus is an experienced player with a calm head who can handle pressure, and we believe he will be able to dictate play alongside Handre Pollard," said the coach.

- 'Adding necessary spark' -

"Herschel has been great in adding the necessary spark we need off the bench, and will be asked to fulfil that role again."

Nienaber has returned to a 5-3 forwards-backs split on the bench having changed to 6-2 after a 22-17 loss in the first Test.

The place vacated by De Jager goes to veteran fly-half Morne Steyn, whose penalty from the halfway line clinched a series victory for the Springboks over the Lions in 2009.

"This group of players are among a handful in the history of South African rugby who have an opportunity to clinch a series against the Lions after winning the Rugby World Cup," said Nienaber.

"I do not think one needs any more motivation than that to win this weekend. We are preparing for a physical encounter and we know that every small battle will count if we want to win the series.

"This match is as important to us as it is for the Lions, so we know it is going to be tight, and we will have to capitalise on every opportunity we have to score points, and be effective in every area."

The latest series has seen a number of Springboks celebrate 50th appearances, starting with fly-half Pollard in the first Test.

It was the turn of loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff last weekend and this Saturday inside centre Damian de Allende will reach the milestone.

Team (15-1)

South Africa: Willie le Roux; Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi; Handre Pollard, Cobus Reinach; Jasper Wiese, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi (capt); Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth; Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Trevor Nyakane, Vincent Koch, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Herschel Jantjies, Morne Steyn, Damian Willemse

Coach: Jacques Nienaber (RSA)

dl/bsp

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