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Record try-scorer Bryan Habana is back at left wing for the Springboks when they face Italy in Florence on Saturday, while Nizaam Carr will get his first start for South Africa against the same opponents he made his Test debut against two years ago.

In a third change to the starting team, Pieter-Steph du Toit, the 2016 SA Rugby Player of the Year, will move back to lock in the place of Eben Etzebeth, who was not considered for selection because of the concussion he suffered against England. This brings to an unfortunate end an impressive run of 31 consecutive Test matches for the Springboks by Etzebeth.

Du Toit’s move to lock, where he will partner Lood de Jager, opened up a position in the back row, where Carr will start following his stint off the bench last week at Twickenham.

The rest of the team that played England in London was kept unchanged, but Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has made three changes to the bench, with Trevor Nyakane (prop), Oupa Mohoje (loose forward) and Elton Jantjies (flyhalf) all returning to the match 23.

Coetzee said his team had a good training week in Florence and is looking forward to an improved performance from his side.

“The players are working extremely hard during training, and there is no lack of effort on their part,” said Coetzee.

“We’ve had a good, hard look at the areas we must improve on and we realise Italy will be a tough side playing at home.”

Coetzee said Habana is fully fit after it was decided not to select him against England.

“It was the right decision not to risk Bryan at Twickenham. He has been training hard all week and without any discomfort, so he is good to go,” said the Bok coach.

“Pieter-Steph has an impressive workrate and I am expecting him to deliver the same at No 4 against a lively Italian pack of forwards. With him moving to lock, we felt Nizaam was the right person to start in the No 6 jersey as he did well when he came off the bench against England. Apart from his speed, he also makes the right decisions at the breakdown.

“Our set-piece is operating very nicely at the moment and we were outstanding in the scums and line-outs last week. However, we must improve in other areas because we had several soft moments at Twickenham, which we got punished for.

“Although they played together for the first time as a combination, I thought that our midfield pairing of Damien de Allende and Francois Venter performed well last week. They will improve as a combination by playing together.

“Apart from the few changes, we have gone for continuity, taking into account that this current squad have only been together for one week before the match against England. I would also like us to build longer periods of sustained pressure, to execute better and to convert our scoring opportunities into points,” explained Coetzee.

“Italy will be determined to bounce back after their loss to New Zealand, they have a few South Africans involved in their set-up so they understand we way play and our mentality. I have said before that there is no easy Test, and we expect a tough battle on Saturday from Italy.”

Meanwhile, prop Tendai Mtawarira will play in his 90th match in the Springbok jersey and will earn his 86th Test cap for South Africa.

The Test between the two sides will be played at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, a football stadium in Florence, and it will be the first time that South Africa will play at this venue.

The Springbok team to face Italy in Florence:

No

Name and surname

Province/Club

Caps

Test Points

15

Willie le Roux

Canon Eagles (Japan)

40

50

14

Ruan Combrinck

Xerox Golden Lions

5

15

13

Francois Venter

Toyota Free State Cheetahs

1

0

12

Damian de Allende

DHL Western Province

21

10

11

Bryan Habana (vice-capt)

Toulon (France)

123

330

10

Pat Lambie

Cell C Sharks

54

146

9

Rudy Paige

Vodacom Blue Bulls

6

0

8

Warren Whiteley

Docomo Red Hurricanes (Japan)

13

15

7

Willem Alberts

Stade Francais (France)

42

35

6

Nizaam Carr

DHL Western Province

3

0

5

Lood de Jager

Vodacom Blue Bulls

26

20

4

Pieter-Steph du Toit

DHL Western Province

18

15

3

Vincent Koch

Saracens (England)

8

0

2

Adriaan Strauss (captain)

Vodacom Blue Bulls

64

30

1

Tendai Mtawarira

Cell C Sharks

85

10

 

Replacements

 

 

 

16

Bongi Mbonambi

DHL Western Province

4

0

17

Steven Kitshoff

Bordeaux (France)

8

0

18

Trevor Nyakane

Vodacom Blue Bulls

26

5

19

Franco Mostert

Ricoh Black Rams (Japan)

5

0

20

Teboho Mohojé

Toyota Free State Cheetahs

14

0

21

Faf de Klerk

Xerox Golden Lions

9

0

22

Elton Jantjies

NTT Shining Arcs (Japan)

9

69

23

Johan Goosen

Racing 92 (France)

11

25

Stats and facts 

Head to head:

·         Italy and South Africa will meet for the 13th time since their first Test in 1995. South Africa won all previous 12 Tests.

·         The smallest losing margin for Italy against the Springboks is 16, when they lost 13-29 in Witbank in 2010 and 6-22 in Padova in 2014.

·         In 1999 South Africa won the Test against Italy in Durban 101-0, the second highest winning margin in the history of South African Test Rugby.

·         South Africa’s complete record against Italy is: P: 12; W: 12; PF: 599; PA: 145; TF: 82; TA: 12; Percentage won: 100%; Average score: 50-12.

Team match records against Italy:

·         Highest score – 101-0 in Durban, 1999

·         Most points conceded – 31 in Bologna, 1997

·         Most tries – 15 in Durban, 1999

·         Most tries conceded – 3 in Bologna, 1997

Individual match records against Italy:

·         Most points – 29 by Gaffie du Toit in Port Elizabeth, 1999

·         Most tries – 5 by Stefan Terblanche in Durban, 1999

·         Most conversions – 8 by Gaffie du Toit in two consecutive Tests – Port Elizabeth and Durban, 1999

·         Most penalty goals – 4 by Joel Stransky (Rome, 1995) and Percy Montgomery (Port Elizabeth, 2001)

·         Most drop goals – None

Career records against Italy:

·         Most appearances – 6 by Victor Matfield and Bryan Habana

·         Most points – 67 by Morné Steyn

·         Most tries – 6 by Stefan Terblanche

·         Most conversions – 16 by Gaffie du Toit

·         Most penalty goals – 8 by Morné Steyn

·         Most drop goals – None

Match officials

·         The match officials for this match are: Referee – George Clancy (Ireland); Assistant referees – Nigel Owens (Wales) and David Wilkinson (Ireland) with the TMO Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland).

·         It will be Clancy’s 10th appearance as referee in Test matches involving South Africa. The Springboks won six of the previous nine with Clancy in charge.

The stadium:

·         Stadio Artemio Franchi is a football stadium in Florence, Italy and is home to ACF Fiorentina. The club plays in the Serie A League.

·         The stadium has a seating capacity of 47 282.

·         The Springboks have never played at the stadium. Australia are the only Tier 1 country that has played against Italy at this stadium before. In 2010 and 2012 Australia won both Test matches.

The team:

·         With the concussion suffered by Eben Etzebeth in the Test against England he was unavailable for selection, thus bringing his long run of 31 consecutive Test matches to an end.

·         The total Test caps in the starting line-up is 509, of which 250 are in the backline and 259among the forwards. The combined Test caps of those on the bench is 86. The average caps per player for the 23 is 26.

·         The youngest player in the 23 man squad is Lood de Jager (23y, 10m) while the oldest member of the team is Bryan Habana (33y, 5m).

·         The tallest player in the squad is Lood de Jager (2.05m), the shortest is Faf de Klerk (1.72m), the heaviest is Steven Kitshoff (125kg) and the lightest is Faf de Klerk (80kg).

·         Adriaan Strauss and Tendai Mtawarira will play in their 10th consecutive match in the starting XV under Allister Coetzee’s reign.

·         Of the 23 players Bryan Habana is the most capped against Italy with six Tests. 

Milestones and records:

·         Should South Africa be victorious in this Test match it will be the 13th consecutive Test win against Italy.

·         Any score against Italy will surpass 600 points in Tests against Italy in 13 Tests.

·         Three tries by South Africa in this Test match will bring up the 1 300th try in Springbok Test rugby.

·         Bryan Habana will become the most capped Springbok against Italy in this Test with his seventh appearance. He also needs one try against Italy to become joint Springbok record holder with Stefan Terblanche for most career tries against Italy (six).

·         Tendai Mtawarira will play in his 90th match in the Springbok jersey. This Test match will be his86th while he played in four tour games in his career.

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