South African players representing Scotland and other nations is a source of pride for Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber

South Africa could come up against as many as five of their countrymen when they take on Scotland on Saturday and Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber believes rugby fans back home are proud of what those players have achieved.

South Africa's coach Jacques Nienaber. (Photo by Patrick Hamilton/AFP via Getty Images)

Nienaber worked with Pierre Schoeman and Duhan van der Merwe at under-20 level so knows what to expect from the pair who are both likely to start at the weekend. He is also sure to be familiar with the other Scotland squad members who came through the South African system, prop Oli Kebble, wing Kyle Steyn and uncapped flanker Dylan Richardson, who was called up for the first time this autumn.

It is a curious situation but there will be no question of mixed loyalties, according to Nienaber who says the South African mentality will ensure the five’s focus is solely on Scotland.

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“Obviously they know us so I believe they would like to put in a good performance, not just because they’re playing against South Africa,” said the Springboks coach. “I know South Africans and they’re very loyal to whoever they serve. So, first and foremost, they would want to play well for themselves, their families and for Scotland.

“It’s going to be a tough battle as they know us and know how we think and do things. Guys like Pierre Schoeman and Duhan, I’ve personally coached at under-20 level and at school level. I’ve come a long way with them.”

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Nienaber, who has made three changes to his team for Murrayfield, added: “People ask us how we feel about South Africans playing for another nation and we’re very proud of it.

“They are South African but obviously there were reasons why they decided they wanted to move on and experience international rugby with another country.

Scotland's Duhan van der Merwe (left) and Pierre Schoeman wave to the fans after the nailbiting 15-13 win over Australia at BT Murrayfield. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

“I was very happy for Kyle [Steyn] the other day when he scored four tries against Tonga. I think it will be a nice tussle on Saturday with the South African-born players but not in a negative way.”

South Africa opened their European tour with a hard-fought win over Wales in Cardiff and expect an equally tough task in Edinburgh.

They will be without full-back Damian Willemse who suffered a head knock and he is replaced by the experienced Willie le Roux.

The two other changes see Franco Mostert comes in at lock and Elton Jantjies start at stand-off, with Lood de Jager and Handré Pollard dropping to the bench.

“It’s just rotational change,” said Nienaber. “Scotland are a quality attacking team, but if you look at their 9, 10 and 15, they’re British & Irish Lions, very experienced players, so they’re game drivers. They can rip us apart with their tackle, they can go with a kicking game. When they beat England in the Six Nations I think they kicked 43 times, which is the most I’ve seen from them. I guess we will have to be awake for whatever tactic they decide to use against us.

“Scotland has been the best defensive side in the northern hemisphere in 2020 and also 2021. They conceded the least tries and least points in the Six Nations.

“So they are a formidable side to break down. That speaks volumes for Steve Tandy.”

Mostert and wing Jesse Kriel will both earn their 50th caps on Saturday.

South Africa team (v Scotland, BT Murrayfield, Saturday, 1pm)

15. Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz)

14. Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles)

13. Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks)

12. Damian de Allende (Munster)

11. Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks)

10. Elton Jantjies (NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes)

9. Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers)

1. Ox Nché (Cell C Sharks)

2. Bongi Mbonambi (Cell C Sharks)

3. Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls)

4. Eben Etzebeth (Toulon)

5. Franco Mostert (Honda Heat)

6. Siya Kolisi (captain, Cell C Sharks)

7. Kwagga Smith (Yamaha Júbilo)

8. Duane Vermeulen (Ulster)


16. Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears)

17. Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers)

18. Vincent Koch (Saracens)

19. Lood de Jager (Sale Sharks)

20. Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers)

21. Cobus Reinach (Montpellier)

22. Handré Pollard (Montpellier)

23. Frans Steyn (Toyota Cheetahs)

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