South Africa: Sharks Centre Pairing Set to Start for Boks

Andre Esterhuizen and Lukhanyo Am will start for the Springboks in Durban on Saturday in their Rugby Championship opener against Argentina.

That much was confirmed by coach Rassie Erasmus in Umhlanga on Monday.

Erasmus had said in Stellenbosch last week that Damian de Allende might be fit for the Durban Test, but he confirmed on Monday that the Stormers midfielder is only likely to be back for the Boks' Australasian leg of the Championship.

It means that Esterhuizen and Am start together for the Boks for the first time.

"I think it's quite obvious that we're going to pick the two together," Erasmus said.

"It's not that they play for the Sharks and we're in Durban, I think it just helps that the two of them have played together."

There had been some speculation that Erasmus may opt to play Handre Pollard at No 12 with Elton Jantjies at flyhalf, but that will not happen.

"Handre is just settling in and Elton has more minutes than anyone else in Super Rugby," Erasmus explained.

"We have to manage him somewhere and if we don't manage him here at the beginning of the tournament ... he needs a bit of breathing space.

"Damian (De Allende) will probably be ready for the Australasian tour, but he won't be ready for these first two games. Andre Esterhuizen is fit and playing at home, so it would make sense to play him."

The other option at centre was Jesse Kriel, who had a superb Super Rugby season at No 13 for the Bulls.

Source: Sport24

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