By Mark Gleeson
CAPE TOWN (Reuters) -South Africa named a strong team to take on Georgia on Friday in their first test in 20 months since winning the World Cup in Japan in 2019.
The test is one of two warm-ups for the Springboks ahead of their three test series against the British and Irish Lions and new coach Jacques Nienaber named six of the starters from the victory over England in Yokohama on Nov. 2 plus two more of the players who came off the bench in the 32-12 win.
New caps Rosko Specman, who won Olympic bronze with South Africa’s sevens team at Rio de Janeiro five years ago, and Aphelele Fassi have been named to start on the wings with World Cup final heroes Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi ruled out of contention because of COVID-19 protocols, Nienaber said.
Jasper Wiese is the only uncapped player among the substitutes after an impressive season with Leicester Tigers in England and he is expected to win a first cap off the bench
"With limited time available before the Lions series, we were always going to select best available team for the outcome we are looking for this specific game. This is our best available team for this game," Nienaber said.
Several players based in England and France, who only joined the Bok training camp in the last days, were not considered, the coach added.
“We would love to give everybody in our camp a chance to play but we are going with guys who have been with us for a long time.”
Friday’s test will be followed by a second clash with Georgia on July 9 in Johannesburg. The first test against the Lions is in Cape Town on July 27.
15-Willie le Roux, 14-Rosko Specman, 13-Jesse Kriel, 12-Frans Steyn, 11-Aphelele Fassi, 10-Handre Pollard, 9-Kobus Reinach, 8-Kwagga Smith, 7-Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6-Siya Kolisi (capt), 5-Franco Mostert, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Trevor Nyakane, 2-Bongi Mbonambi, 1-Ox Noche
Replacements: 16-Malcolm Marx, 17-Steven Kitshoff, 18-Frans Malherbe, 19-Marvin Orie, 20-Jasper Wiese, 21-Herschel Jantjies, 22-Elton Jantjies, 23-Damian Willemse.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)