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Rugby-Moodie moves to centre for Springboks against New Zealand


LONDON (Reuters) – South Africa’s Canan Moodie will play a first test at centre and there is another start for returning captain Siya Kolisi as coach Jacques Nienaber named his team to play New Zealand in a Rugby World Cup warm-up at Twickenham on Friday.

Wing Moodie scored two tries in the 52-16 win over Wales in Cardiff at the weekend but will move to a less familiar role at outside centre in place of Jesse Kriel, who also got a brace in that game. He has not played centre since schoolboy level.

The injury absence of stalwart Lukhanyo Am means 20-year-old Moodie will provide cover at 13 for the Springboks.

He will partner Andre Esterhuizen in the midfield, with Damian Willemse, showing no ill-effects of his clash of heads with Wales wing Rio Dyer, starting in the fullback position.

The electric Kurt-Lee Arendse returns to the side on the wing along with 2019 World Cup winner Makazole Mapimpi. Flyhalf Manie Libbok and Faf de Klerk make up the halfback pairing.

Kolisi played 40 minutes against Wales after returning from a serious knee injury sustained in April, the first time he has appeared in the green and gold jersey in 2023.

He will get another run against the All Blacks as he builds fitness ahead of the Boks’ World Cup Pool B opener against Scotland in Marseille on Sept. 10.

Pieter-Steph du Toit retains his place as the other flanker, while 37-year-old Duane Vermeulen comes in at number eight.

Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert also return as the lock pairing but the front row is the same with hooker Malcolm Marx packing down alongside props Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe.

“Our objective since the beginning of the season was to strike a balance between performance and managing player load with only six Test matches to get ready for the World Cup, and we’re pleased with the way we’ve developed in that regard,” Nienaber said.

“In the last five matches we’ve given everyone, with the exception of the injured players, valuable game time, which is vital going into the World Cup, and we’re satisfied with the way we’ve been building as a team.”

New Zealand beat the Boks 35-20 in a Rugby Championship fixture in Auckland last month. The two sides could meet in the World Cup quarter-finals depending how their pools pan out.

South Africa team

15-Damian Willemse, 14-Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13-Canan Moodie, 12-Andre Esterhuizen, 11-Makazole Mapimpi, 10-Manie Libbok, 9-Faf de Klerk, 8-Duane Vermeulen, 7-Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6-Siya Kolisi (captain), 5-Franco Mostert, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Frans Malherbe, 2-Malcolm Marx, 1-Steven Kitshoff

Replacements: 16-Bongi Mbonambi, 17-Ox Nche, 18-Trevor Nyakane, 19-Jean Kleyn, 20-RG Snyman, 21-Marco van Staden, 22-Cobus Reinach, 23-Willie le Roux

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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