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Springboks lose Cronje for All Blacks clash

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South Africa’s Springboks have suffered a blow ahead of their match against New Zealand’s All Blacks as Ross Cronje has been forced to withdraw.

Scrumhalf Cronje has been withdrawn from the Springbok team because of illness and is replaced by Francois Hougaard, who was initially named on the bench.

Rudy Paige is now the replacement scrumhalf for the important Rugby Championship match on Saturday at the QBE Stadium in Albany.

The Springboks have won five and drawn one Test so far this season, however, Springbok captain Eben Etzebeth said his side face their biggest challenge this weekend against the world champions.

“Despite our results so far this season, we know we will have to step up our game,” explained Etzebeth.

“A local rugby fan came up to me and said he thought the All Blacks versus Springbok games are probably the biggest in world rugby and I agree with him. Our matches are always massive, we know they’re our biggest competition and hopefully they feel the same about us.”

Meanwhile, Etzebeth added that he has embraced the captaincy since he took over the leadership from the injured Warren Whiteley.

“As a leader, I am even more competitive because your ambition for success is bigger,” explained the towering 25-year old lock who makes his 61st Test appearance on Saturday.

South Africa

15. Andries Coetzee, 14. Raymond Rhule, 13. Jesse Kriel, 12. Jan Serfontein , 11. Courtnall Skosan , 10. Elton Jantjies , 9. Francois Hougaard, 8. Uzair Cassiem , 7. Jean-Luc du Preez, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5. Franco Mostert, 4. Eben Etzebeth (c), 3. Ruan Dreyer , 2. Malcolm Marx, 1. Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements: 16. Bongi Mbonambi , 17. Steven Kitshoff , 18. Trevor Nyakane , 19. Lood de Jager, 20. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 21. Rudy Paige, 22. Handré Pollard, 23. Damian de Allende

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