Franco Mostert and Jean-Luc du Preez are back in the Springbok starting team for Saturday’s Castle Lager Rugby Championship clash against the All Blacks at the QBE Stadium in Albany, north of Auckland.
The Emirates Lions lock, who was rested last week in Perth, will take over the No 5 jersey while Pieter-Steph du Toit is named as the utility forward cover on the bench, with Du Preez promoted to the starting team for the second time this season, in the place of the injured Jaco Kriel.
The third and final change to the run-on team is in the front row, where Ruan Dreyer comes in at tighthead prop as replacement for the injured Coenie Oosthuizen, who has returned home after suffering a broken arm in the Wallabies clash.
The rest of the match day squad remains the same, which gives the Bok starting team with a combined total of 300 Test caps a settled look and another chance to improve on their continuity.
“Pieter-Steph did very well when he stepped in for Franco last weekend in a rotational switch,” said Springbok coach Allister Coetzee.
“Franco had five superb matches before he was rested last week, he is refreshed again and I expect another strong performance from him as his high work rate is much needed.
“Ruan did well when he replaced Frans Malherbe against a powerful French front row in June and he will start on Saturday because we want to persist with Trevor Nyakane and Steven Kitshoff as a combination off the bench to make an impact in the second half.”
According to Coetzee, this contest is the ultimate test for the Springboks, who are the only unbeaten international team in 2017 after six Tests.
“They are the number one side in the world both in rankings and experience and there is no greater contest than to play them in New Zealand,” said Coetzee.
“The rivalry between the two sides are filled with rich history, and on Saturday we get an opportunity to be part of that. They are always at their best when playing the Springboks and we are expecting another huge battle.
“There are no room for errors against the All Blacks because they will punish you for every mistake. We prepared well for this challenge and we will get another opportunity to gain more valuable experience as we continue to grow as a team.”
Eben Etzebeth will earn his 60th Test cap on Saturday and he will captain the side for the fifth time this year.
The Springbok side to face the All Blacks in Albany:
15. Andries Coetzee (Emirates Lions), 6 caps, 0 points
14. Raymond Rhule (Toyota Cheetahs), 6 caps, 5 points (1 try)
13. Jesse Kriel (Vodacom Bulls), 22 caps, 30 points (6 tries)
12. Jan Serfontein (Vodacom Bulls), 32 caps, 20 points (4 tries)
11. Courtnall Skosan (Emirates Lions), 6 caps, 5 points (1 try)
10. Elton Jantjies (Emirates Lions), 17 caps, 179 points (2 try, 32 conversions, 35 penalties)
9. Ross Cronje (Emirates Lions), 4 caps, 5 points (1 try)
8. Uzair Cassiem (Toyota Cheetahs) 4 caps, 5 points (1 try)
7. Jean-Luc du Preez (Cell C Sharks), 7 caps, 5 points (1 try)
6. Siya Kolisi (DHL Stormers), 22 caps, 20 points (4 tries)
5. Franco Mostert (Emirates Lions), 12 caps, 0 points
4. Eben Etzebeth (captain, DHL Stormers), 60 caps, 15 points (3 tries)
3. Ruan Dreyer (Emirates Lions), 1 cap, 0 points
2. Malcolm Marx (Emirates Lions), 8 caps, 10 points (2 tries)
1. Tendai Mtawarira (Cell C Sharks), 93 caps, 10 points (2 tries)
16. Bongi Mbonambi (DHL Stormers), 10 caps, 0 points
17. Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers), 16 caps, 0 points
18. Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls), 31 caps, 5 points (1 try)
19. Lood de Jager (Vodacom Bulls), 30 caps, 20 points (4 tries)
20. Pieter-Steph du Toit (DHL Stormers), 26 caps, 20 points (4 tries)
21. Francois Hougaard (Worcester Warriors, England) 45 caps, 25 points (5 tries)
22. Handré Pollard (Vodacom Bulls), 20 caps, 188 points (2 tries, 29 conversions, 37 penalties, 3 drop goals)
23. Damian de Allende (DHL Stormers), 24 caps, 15 points (3 tries)
Facts and stats:
· The QBE Stadium is located in Albany, 15 km northwest of the Auckland city centre, and this will be the Springboks’ first Test against the All Blacks at this venue.
· During RWC 2011, South Africa played two Test matches at this stadium. Their opponents were Namibia and Samoa and the scores were 87-0 and 13-5 respectively.
· The venue, previously known as North Harbour Stadium, was opened on 8 March, 1997. It is home, among others, to the North Harbour Rugby Union. The seating capacity of QBE Stadium is 25 000, but was increased to 30 000 for this Test match.
· South Africa’s first Test match in Auckland against New Zealand was played in 1921 during South Africa’s first tour to New Zealand, captained by Boy Morkel. The Test in Auckland was won by the Springboks (9-5).
· To date, the Boks have played 10 Test matches in Auckland against New Zealand. The Springbok record for the 10 matches are: P 10; W 2; L 7; D 1. PF: 151; PA: 227; TF: 19; TA: 26; Average score: 15-23. Win%: 20%.
· South Africa’s record in New Zealand is: P 42; W 9; L 31; D 2; PF: 544; PA: 861; TF: 59; TA: 96; Average score: 13-21. Win%: 21%.
· South Africa’s overall record against New Zealand is: P: 93; W: 35; L: 55; D: 3; PF: 1 458; PA: 1 863; TF: 140; TA: 201; Average score: 16-20. Win%: 38%.
· South Africa’s last win in New Zealand was eight years ago in Hamilton, on 12 September, 2009. The score was 32-29 and the referee on the day was Nigel Owens of Wales.
Total number of caps:
· The total test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is 300, with 93 caps in the backline, 207 caps amongst the forwards with a further 202 on the bench.
· The average caps per player in the backline are 13, the forwards 26 while the players on the bench average 25. The average age of the starting 15 is 26.
· Tendai Mtawarira will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok prop to 94 caps in this position. He is the third most experienced Springbok forward, behind Victor Matfield and John Smit.
· Mtawarira will also play in his 43rd Caste Lager Rugby Championship match, making him the fourth Springbok behind Bryan Habana (53), Jean de Villiers (50) and Victor Matfield (48) to play in 40 or more matches in this competition.
· “Beast” will also extend his Springbok record to 33 consecutive Test matches in the Tri-Nations / Castle Lager Rugby Championship.
· Elton Jantjies needs 21 points to reach 200 points in Tests for South Africa while Handré Pollard needs 12 points to reach the 200 mark.