Experienced props Tendai Mtawarira and Coenie Oosthuizen, as well as inside centre Damian de Allende, all return to the Springbok starting team to face Ireland on Saturday evening (kick-off at 19h30 SA time) at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
The match is the first of four Castle Lager Outgoing Tour Tests that also include internationals against France, Italy and Wales.
Mtawarira, the team’s most experienced player with 95 Test caps, comes back into the starting line-up at loosehead prop while Steven Kitshoff, who made his starting debut against the All Blacks last month in Cape Town, will move back to the bench, where he has been very impressive this year.
“Modern day rugby is about using 23 players effectively, and having Kitshoff coming off the bench with 30 mins to play has worked well for us this season,” said Springbok coach Allister Coetzee.
Oosthuizen has recovered from an arm fracture sustained against the Wallabies in Perth in September, and he takes over the tighthead position from Ruan Dreyer, who started in the Boks’ previous three outings.
There is only one change in the backline, with De Allende earning a first start of the season as replacement for Jan Serfontein, who has played in all previous nine Bok matches of the year. Serfontein has moved to French club Montpellier and has asked not to be considered for the month-long European tour.The rest of the starting line-up is unchanged from the team that lost by one point to New Zealand last month, with Pieter-Steph du Toit retaining the No 7 jersey after a strong performance against the All Blacks.
Kitshoff will be joined on the bench by loose forward Uzair Cassiem – in place of the injured Jean-Luc du Preez – after missing the Cape Town match with a rib injury. De Allende’s place on the bench goes to Francois Venter.
Coetzee said the Springboks will have to adapt to a different challenge against an experienced Irish team this weekend.
“They beat us here in 2014 and with an experienced coaching team and world class players, they are rightfully considered as the favourites and is one of few teams in the last five years that managed to beat the All Blacks,” said the Springbok coach.
“The Irish have a world-class halfback pair and their set-piece play is extremely good, so it will be a great battle on Saturday. They know how to keep the ball and uses a good kicking game to put teams under pressure.”
Regarding the changes to the starting team, Coetzee said: “Continuity is important and we have kept changes to a minimum, with Jean-Luc injured and Jan not available. I am really excited to see Damian getting an opportunity on Saturday. He has worked very hard and looked good in training.”
The Springbok team to against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday:
15. Andries Coetzee, Emirates Lions – 9 caps, 0 points
14. Dillyn Leyds, DHL Stormers – 5 caps, 0 points
13. Jesse Kriel, Vodacom Bulls – 24 caps, 30 points (6 tries)
12. Damian de Allende, DHL Stormers 27 caps, 15 points (3 tries)
11. Courtnall Skosan, Emirates Lions – 9 caps, 10 points (2 tries)
10. Elton Jantjies, Emirates Lions/NTT Shining Arcs (Japan) – 20 caps, 198 points (2 tries, 37 conversions, 38 penalties)
9. Ross Cronje, Emirates Lions – 6 caps, 10 points (1 tries)
8. Francois Louw, Bath, England – 54 caps, 40 points (8 tries)
7. Pieter-Steph du Toit, DHL Stormers – 29 caps, 20 points (4 tries)
6. Siya Kolisi, DHL Stormers – 25 caps, 20 points (4 tries)
5. Lood de Jager, Vodacom Bulls – 32 caps, 20 points (4 tries)
4. Eben Etzebeth (captain), DHL Stormers – 63 caps, 15 points (3 tries)
3. Coenie Oosthuizen, Cell C Sharks – 29 caps, 20 points (4 tries)
2. Malcolm Marx, Emirates Lions – 10 caps, 15 points (3 tries)
1. Tendai Mtawarira, Cell C Sharks – 95 caps, 10 points (2 tries)
16. Bongi Mbonambi, DHL Stormers – 11 caps, 0 points
17. Steven Kitshoff, DHL Stormers – 19 caps, 0 points
18. Wilco Louw, DHL Stormers – 1 cap, 0 points
19. Franco Mostert, Emirates Lions/Ricoh Black Rams (Jap) – 15 caps, 0 points
20. Uzair Cassiem, Toyota Cheetahs – 6 caps, 5 points (1 try)
21. Rudy Paige, Vodacom Bulls – 11 caps, 5 points (1 try)
22. Handré Pollard, Vodacom Bulls – 22 caps, 190 points (2 tries, 30 conversions, 37 penalties, 3 drop goals)
23. Francois Venter, Toyota Free State Cheetahs – 3 caps, 0 points
Facts and stats:
· The total number of caps in the Springbok starting line-up is 439. There are 101 caps in the backline with 338 caps amongst the forwards, and on the bench there are a further 88 caps.
· The average caps per player in the backline are 14, the forwards 42 while the players on the bench average 11. The average age of the starting 15 is 26.
· Tendai Mtawarira will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok prop to 96. He is the third most experienced Springbok forward, behind Victor Matfield and John Smit.
· Mtawarira will equal the record for most Test caps (seven) against Ireland. The current record holder is CJ van der Linde.
· Pieter-Steph du Toit and Coenie Oosthuizen will play in their 30th Test match.
· Elton Jantjies needs two points to reach 200 points in Tests for South Africa.
· Should Jantjies succeed with four conversions, he will equal Percy Montgomery’s career record of 10 conversions (in six Tests) against Ireland. This will be Jantjies’ fourth Test against Ireland.
· The Aviva Stadium in Dublin was built on the same ground that was previously occupied by Lansdowne Road, the oldest rugby stadium in the world. The first Test played at Lansdowne Road took place on 11 March 1878. Ireland played a total of 244 Test matches at Lansdowne Road.
· The first Test match played at the new Aviva Stadium was between Ireland and South Africa on 6 November 2010, which South Africa won 23-21.
· Saturday’s match will be the Springbok’s 14th Test against Ireland at this venue. South Africa’s record on this ground is: P 13; W 8; L 4; D 1; PF: 221; PA: 170; TF: 33; TA: 15; Average score: 17-13. Win%: 62%.
· South Africa’s record in Ireland is: P 15; W 9; L 5; D 1; PF: 246; PA: 197; TF: 38; TA: 18; Average score: 16-13. Win%: 60%.
· South Africa’s overall record against Ireland: P: 25; W: 18; L: 6; D: 1; PF: 503; PA: 342; TF: 69; TA: 31; Average score: 20-14. Win%: 72%.