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Rudy Paige will make his starting debut for the Springboks on Saturday at Loftus Versfeld in the team’s penultimate Castle Lager Rugby Championship fixture of the year.

The inclusion of Paige at scrumhalf is one of three changes made to the Springbok line-up that started the match against the All Blacks two weeks ago in Christchurch.

Paige, who has made four Test appearances from the Bok bench, will partner the experienced Morné Steyn in the halfbacks. They take over from Faf de Klerk and Elton Jantjies respectively, both of whom started in the last six Tests of the year.

The only other change to the starting line-up sees Pat Lambie return to the team for the first time since he suffered concussion in the series opener against Ireland in June. Lambie will play fullback, where he is preferred over Johan Goosen. The Cell C Sharks player, who will earn his 52nd Springbok cap, has already scored 137 Test points in the Green and Gold jersey.

The Springbok forward pack that played against the All Blacks in Christchurch was kept unchanged, with hooker Adriaan Strauss again leading out the team after he suffered a knock to the lower back in New Zealand.Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has reshuffled his bench, which shows five changes from the previous match-23. Bongi Mbonambi, Julian Redelinghuys, Lood de Jager, Lionel Mapoe and Willie le Roux are all included amongst the reserves and they are expected to make a strong impact off the bench.

Coetzee said the team is looking forward to the Test at Loftus Versfeld, where the Springboks are unbeaten in five previous Castle Lager Rugby Championship Tests against the Wallabies.

“We had a very good training week so far and there is definitely excitement amongst the players to play in front of our South African supporters again as we continue to build continuity with just the three changes to the starting team and an unchanged pack of forwards,” said Coetzee.

“Pat has shown great confidence all week long and we are very pleased to have him back, as well as Lood and Julian, both of who have also shrugged off injuries. Willie will add a lot of experience on the bench.

“The selection of Pat at fullback fits into the way we want to play this weekend, together with his experience, calmness and leadership, which will be invaluable this weekend. Elton and Faf remain an integral part of the squad and both are part of our future plans, but Rudy and Morné deserve an opportunity to start.

“Australia will be determined to build on their previous two wins and they will pose difficult questions to us with their tactical and technical approach. We have our own goals to achieve within the two remaining matches, starting on Saturday when we play the Wallabies in front of a good crowd at Loftus.”

The Springbok team to face the Wallabies in Pretoria:

Position

Name

Franchise / Province / Club

Test Caps

Test points

15

Pat Lambie

Cell C Sharks

51

137

14

Bryan Habana (vice-captain)

Toulon (France)

121

330

13

Jesse Kriel

Vodacom Bulls

16

15

12

Juan de Jongh

DHL Stormers

17

15

11

Francois Hougaard

Worcester Warriors (England)

37

25

10

Morné Steyn

Stade Francais (France)

64

703

9

Rudy Paige

Vodacom Bulls

4

0

8

Warren Whiteley

Emirates Lions

10

15

7

Oupa Mohoje

Toyota Cheetahs

12

0

6

Francois Louw

Bath (England)

50

40

5

Pieter-Steph du Toit

DHL Stormers

15

15

4

Eben Etzebeth

DHL Stormers

51

10

3

Vincent Koch

DHL Stormers/Steval Pumas

5

0

2

Adriaan Strauss (captain)

Vodacom Bulls

61

30

1

Tendai Mtawarira

Cell C Sharks

82

10

Replacements:

16

Bongi Mbonambi

DHL Stormers

2

0

17

Steven Kitshoff

Bordeaux (France)

5

0

18

Julian Redelinghuys

Emirates Lions

6

0

19

Lood de Jager

Toyota Cheetahs

23

20

20

Willem Alberts

Stade Francais (France)

39

35

21

Jaco Kriel

Emirates Lions

5

0

22

Lionel Mapoe

Emirates Lions

7

0

23

Willie le Roux

Canon Eagles (Japan)

37

45

Stats and facts

Head to head:

·         South Africa and Australia will meet for the 83rd time since their first Test match in 1933. South Africa won 45, lost 36 and one match was drawn for a win percentage of 55%.

·         The inaugural Tri-Nations (Castle Lager Rugby Championship) Test match between Australia and South Africa was played in Sydney on 13 July, 1996. To date, 44 matches were played between the two countries of which South Africa won 21, lost 22 and drawn 1. The total points’ difference is only 7 points in favour of South Africa.

·         The complete South African Castle Lager Rugby Championship record and Australia is: Played 44, Won 21, Lost 22, Drawn 1, Points for 981, Points against 974, Tries for 94, Tries against 96, Average score 23-23.

Match officials:

·         The match officials for this match are: Referee – Wayne Barnes (England); assistant referees – John Lacey (Ireland) and George Clancy (Ireland), with the TMO Jim Yuille (Scotland).

·         It will be Barnes’ 13th appearance as referee in a Test matches involving South Africa. The Springboks won nine and lost three of the previous 12 Tests with him in charge.

The stadium:

·         Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria has a seating capacity of 51 762. The Springbok record at this stadium is: Played 33, Won 25, Lost 8, Points for 1 085, Points against 656, Tries for 131, Tries against 65. The average score is 33-20.

·         The most points scored in a Test match by a Springbok player at this stadium are 31, when Percy Montgomery scored two tries, kicked nine conversions and a penalty goal against Wales in June, 1998. South Africa won that Test 96-13, at the time the biggest win ever for the Springboks.

·         Four years ago, almost to the day, Bryan Habana scored a hat-trick of tries against Australia at Loftus in a 31-8 win for the Springboks.

·         Loftus Versfeld was home to the second biggest win by the Springboks against Australia. On 23 August 1997 South Africa won 61-22, scoring eight tries, six conversions and three penalty goals.

·         The complete Castle Lager Rugby Championship record at Loftus against Australia is: Played 5, Won 5, Points for 178, Points against 92, Tries for 20, Tries against 9. The average score is 36-18.

The team:

·         The total Test caps in the starting line-up are 596 – 310 in the backline with 286 amongst the forwards. The combined test caps of those on the bench are 124. The average caps per player for the 23 are 31.

·         The youngest player in the 23 man squad is Jesse Kriel (22y, 7m) while the oldest member of the team is Bryan Habana (33y, 3m).

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

·         Bryan Habana is the top try scorer (9) for South Africa against Australia while Morné Steyn is the top points scorer with 16 conversions, 39 penalty goals and three drop goals for a total of 158 career points in 14 appearances against the Wallabies.

·         Bryan Habana needs one try against Australia for his career record 10th try against the Wallabies. He is also the record holder for most Springbok career tries at Loftus Versfeld (8).

·         Eben Etzebeth will play in his 29th consecutive Test match, elevating him into joint third with Morné Steyn for most consecutive Tests in a career. Only Gary Teichmann (39) and John Smit (46) have played in more consecutive Tests.

·         Morné Steyn needs three successful penalty goals to equal Percy Montgomery’s career record of 148 penalty goals in Test matches. Only one penalty goal will bring up his 40th penalty goal against Australia as well as improving his record career points against Australia to 161. 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.

·         The following two players will play their first Test match against the Wallabies: Vincent Koch and Rudy Paige. It will also be his first Test match against Australia should Julian Redelinghuys be used as a substitute.

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