South Africa winger Cheslin Kolbe has returned to the starting side for the Rugby World Cup final against England in Yokohama on Saturday after he recovered from an ankle injury.
Kolbe missed the Springboks’ pool match against Canada with an ankle problem and had to leave the field in the latter stages of the quarterfinal against Japan before sitting out their 19-16 semifinal win over Wales.
“Cheslin is fit and he is back in the team,” Erasmus told a news conference on Thursday. “We were a bit nervous when we lost him for the semifinal, but the nice thing about the squad … is that we have a lot of depth.
“Cheslin is world class and he has shown that whenever he has played for us.”
Kolbe is the only change to South Africa’s squad, with Erasmus sticking to a massive pack and having six forwards on the bench to bring on as replacements in the second half.
Captain Siya Kolisi will earn his 50th Test cap in the final, where he will be expected to compete with England’s twin opensides Tom Curry and Sam Underhill.
Replacement scrum-half Herschel Jantjies, who on Wednesday was named as a contender for World Rugby’s Breakthrough Player of the Year award, and the versatile Frans Steyn are the only two replacement backs.
Steyn is the only player in the squad to have appeared in a World Cup final before, having been part of the side that beat England in the 2007 final and Erasmus said earlier in the week his calming influence would be vital.
South Africa: Willie Le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph Du Toit, Siya Kolisi (captain), Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Mbongeni Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, RG Snyman, Franco Mostert, Francois Louw, Herschel Jantjies, Frans Steyn