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Vermeulen back as Boks change 5 for 2nd All Blacks test

·2-min read

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Duane Vermeulen is back at No. 8 for his first test this year as South Africa made five changes to its starting lineup on Tuesday for its second Rugby Championship game against New Zealand.

Two of those changes were forced, with Jaden Hendrikse at scrumhalf in place of Faf de Klerk, who was ruled out with concussion. Jesse Kriel is called in on the right wing to replace Kurt-Lee Arendse, who was sent off and also sustained a concussion in the Springboks' 26-10 win over the All Blacks in Mbombela on Saturday.

Arendse was suspended for four weeks for the dangerous midair tackle on Beauden Barrett that led to his red card and his injury.

South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber also made two tactical switches in the front row for the game at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday by bringing in Ox Nché for Trevor Nyakane at loosehead prop and restoring Bongi Mbonambi as starting hooker in place of Malcolm Marx. Tighthead prop Frans Malherbe is set for his 50th test.

Herschel Jantjies was called up to the reserves as scrumhalf cover and Jasper Wiese dropped to the bench to make way for the return of the 36-year-old Vermeulen, who has recently undergone knee surgery.

“Duane has a massive presence on the field and there is no bigger game for him to make his comeback from injury than facing the All Blacks,” said Nienaber.

The Springboks are seeking back-to-back wins over the All Blacks for the first time since 2009 and another defeat for New Zealand is expected to see coach Ian Foster lose his job. The All Blacks have lost five of their last six tests to slip to an all-time low of No. 5 on the world rankings.

Foster is expected to name his team for Ellis Park on Thursday and has injury doubts over Beauden Barrett at flyhalf and his brother Jordie at fullback.

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South Africa: Damian Willemse, Jesse Kriel, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handré Pollard, Jaden Hendrikse; Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (captain), Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nché. Reserves: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Franco Mostert, Jasper Wiese, Kwagga Smith, Herschel Jantjies, Willie le Roux.

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More AP rugby: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports