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Pieter-Steph du Toit and Vincent Koch were included in the Springbok starting line-up to face the All Blacks in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship at the AMI Stadium in Christchurch on Saturday, when Francois Louw will play in his 50th Test for South Africa.

Du Toit replaces Lood de Jager, who sustained a severely bruised knee last week against the Wallabies in Brisbane, while Koch gets the nod ahead of Lourens Adriaanse, who started last week in Australia. The rest of the Springbok starting line-up is unchanged.

There are however several changes on the bench. Promising Emirates Lions hooker Malcolm Marx gets a first spot amongst the reserves, while Willem Alberts fills the gap on the bench left by Du Toit. Amongst the replacement backline players, Damian de Allende swaps places with Lionel Mapoe.

Regarding the inclusion of Marx and Alberts on the bench, Coetzee said: “Malcolm has huge potential and we have a plan for him and Bongi Mbonambi because of Adriaan’s retirement at the end of the season. Malcolm now gets a chance on the reserve bench and it would be great to see him in action, should he get the chance to go onto the park.“I have decided on a six-two split on the bench again as I believe Willem and Jaco (Kriel) will each make a big impact when they enter the field of play and I decided to swap Damian with Lionel to ensure we have cover for the inside centre position,” said Coetzee.

Du Toit will resume his provincial partnership with his DHL Stormers lock partner Eben Etzebeth in his first start against the All Blacks.

Coetzee said the Springboks know they will face a formidable and in-form All Black team on Saturday.

“Each match between these two traditional rugby rivals is always tough, no matter what the circumstances are, and Saturday’sTest is bound to be another tremendous battle,” said Coetzee.

“Numerous of our players will play in their first Test against the All Blacks and there’s a good deal of excitement in that regard.

“We know that our discipline was not on par against the Wallabies in Brisbane, and we have to show a big improvement on several fronts. Our defence will have to be solid for the full duration of the match, because the All Blacks have the game breakers that will punish you for any defensive lapse.”

Louw, who made his Test debut against Wales in 2010, will earn his 50th cap for the Springboks on Saturday, while Bryan Habana will play in a landmark 120th Test for the Springboks, and in doing so he will set a new world record for international appearances by a wing.

The encounter between the two traditional rugby rivals marks the Springboks’ 800th rugby match. The Boks have played in 458 Tests since the first tour by the British Isles in 1891, and 341 official non-test matches, the first of which was played on tour to Britain in 1906.

The Springbok team to face New Zealand in Christchurch:

Position Name Franchise / Province / Club Test Caps Test points
15 Johan Goosen Racing 92 (France) 9 20
14 Bryan Habana (vice-captain) Toulon (France) 120 325
13 Jesse Kriel Vodacom Bulls 15 15
12 Juan de Jongh DHL Stormers 16 15
11 Francois Hougaard Worcester Warriors (England) 36 25
10 Elton Jantjies Emirates Lions 8 61
9 Faf de Klerk Emirates Lions 6 0
8 Warren Whiteley Emirates Lions 9 15
7 Oupa Mohoje Toyota Cheetahs 11 0
6 Francois Louw Bath (England) 49 40
5 Pieter-Steph du Toit DHL Stormers 14 15
4 Eben Etzebeth DHL Stormers 50 10
3 Vincent Koch DHL Stormers/Steval Pumas 4 0
2 Adriaan Strauss (captain) Vodacom Bulls 60 30
1 Tendai Mtawarira Cell C Sharks 81 10
Replacements:
16 Malcolm Marx Emirates Lions 0 0
17 Steven Kitshoff Bordeaux (France) 4 0
18 Lourens Adriaanse Cell C Sharks 3 0
19 Franco Mostert Emirates Lions 3 0
20 Willem Alberts Stade Francais (France) 38 35
21 Jaco Kriel Emirates Lions 4 0
22 Morné Steyn Stade Francais (France) 63 703
23 Damian de Allende DHL Stormers 18 10

Stats and facts

Head to head:

·         South Africa and New Zealand will play in their 92nd Test match since their first encounter in 1921. South Africa won 35, lost 53 and three matches were drawn for a winning percentage of 38%.

·         To date, 43 Castle Lager Rugby Championship matches were played between the two countries of which South Africa won 12 and lost 31 for a winning percentage of 28%.

·         The complete South African Castle Lager Rugby Championship record against New Zealand is: Played 43, Won 12, Lost 31, Points for 829, Points against 1 178, Tries for 76, Tries against 116, Average score 19-27.

·         The last time that South Africa won a Test match in New Zealand was seven years ago when the Springboks won by three points in Hamilton, the final score being 32-29. Since then New Zealand have been unbeaten in 43 Test matches at home against all opposition.

·         The highest scores by the two opponents were New Zealand 55-35 in 1997 in Auckland and South Africa 46-40 in 2000 in Johannesburg. The aggregate of 90 points in the Auckland Test is also the highest ever in a Test match between them.

·         The highest winning margin by the two rivals were 36 by New Zealand (52-16) in 2003 in Pretoria, while 17 points is still the highest winning margin by the Springboks when Phil Mostert’s team kept the All Blacks scoreless (17-0) in 1928 in Durban. 

Match officials:

·         The match officials for this match are: Referee – Angus Gardner (Australia); Assistant referees – Pascal Gaüzère (France) and Marius Mitrea (Italy) with the TMO George Ayoub (Australia).

·         It will only be Gardner’s second appearance as referee in Test matches involving South Africa. The Springboks won the second Test against Ireland in June with Gardner in charge.

The stadium:

·         The inaugural Tri-Nations Test match between New Zealand and South Africa was played on 20 July, 1996 at Lancaster Park, Christchurch. On 22 February, 2011, Christchurch was struck by an earthquake and the stadium at Lancaster Park (later named Jade Stadium) was damaged to such an extent that no further sporting activities were possible.

·         A temporary outdoor sporting venue, AMI Stadium, was built at Rugby League Park to accommodate major sporting events. As a result, Vodacom Super Rugby and Test matches in Christchurch are now played at AMI Stadium. Saturday’s Test match will be the first for the Springboks at this stadium.

The team:

·         The total Test caps in the starting line-up are 488 – of this, 210 caps are in the backline with 278 among the forwards. The combined test caps of those on the bench are 133. The average caps per player in the match-23 are 21.

·         The youngest player in the squad is Jesse Kriel (22y, 7m) while the oldest member of the team is Bryan Habana (33y, 3m).

·         The tallest player in the squad is Eben Etzebeth (2.04m), the shortest is Faf de Klerk (1.72m), the heaviest is Steven Kitshoff (125kg) and the lightest is Faf de Klerk (80kg).

·         The following players will play in their seventh consecutive match in the starting XV under Allister Coetzee’s reign: Faf de Klerk, Francois Louw, Eben Etzebeth, Adriaan Strauss and Tendai Mtawarira.

·         Bryan Habana is the top try scorer (7) for South Africa against New Zealand while Morné Steyn is the top points scorer with 1 try, 10 conversions, 31 penalty goals and 2 drop goals for a total of 124 career points in 11 appearances against the All Blacks.

Team milestones:

·         This Test match will be the 800th rugby match that the Springboks will play against international opposition. It is the 459th Test match for South Africa. Since the first tour to the British Isles & Ireland in 1906, 341 official non-test matches were played by the Springboks.

·         Bryan Habana will become the most capped Springbok in the tournament (51 appearances) thereby surpassing Jean de Villiers’ 50 career appearances. It will also be his 120th Test match as a wing in the Green and Gold, which is a World Record.

·         Eben Etzebeth will play in his 28th consecutive Test match (all in the lock position) and thereby equaling the record of Victor Matfield for most consecutive Test appearances as a lock.

·         Morné Steyn needs three successful penalty goals to equal Percy Montgomery’s career record of 148 penalty goals in Test matches. He is also co-record holder with four drop goals in his Castle Lager Rugby Championship career, the other players being Dan Carter of New Zealand and fellow Springbok André Pretorius.

·         Possible Test and Castle Lager Rugby Championship debut: Malcolm Marx could make his Test and Championship debut, should he be used off the bench. He will then be Springbok #876.

·         Faf de Klerk and Pieter-Steph du Toit will play their first Test match against the All Blacks. Lourens Adriaanse, Steven Kitshoff, Jaco Kriel, Malcolm Marx and Franco Mostert could also make their first appearance against New Zealand should they be required as replacements.

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