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South Africa head into Lions Test without two key stars in bitter blow

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THE Springboks go into Saturday’s third Test against the British & Irish Lions without two of their most important players in the only personnel changes to the team that began last week’s 27-9 victory. 

Scrum-half Faf de Klerk has been ruled out by a leg muscle strain, while back-row forward Pieter-Steph du Toit has not recovered sufficiently from the shoulder injury which forced him off midway through the first half last week.

Cobus Reinach starts at 9 instead of De Klerk, and Du Toit’s absence sees Franco Mostert move from the second to the back row, with Lood de Jager coming in at lock to partner Eben Etzebeth.

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The absence of De Klerk in particular is a blow for the world champions given the Sale Sharks player’s energy levels and intelligent game management. Du Toit, world player of the year in 2019, will also be missed, but the decision to move Mostert is a shrewd one,
meaning the South Africans are likely to be as formidable in the lineout as they were in the second Test.

Centre Damian de Allende will win his 50th cap, while back-up stand-off Morne Steyn – a member of the winning squad when the Lions last visited South Africa in 2009 – could make his first Test appearance in five years. 

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“This group of players are among a handful of players in the history of South African rugby that have an opportunity to clinch a series against the Lions after winning the Rugby World Cup, and every player in this squad understands what a rare honour that is,” Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber said. 

“I don’t 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.” 

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