The return of Franco Mostert at lock is the only change in the Springbok starting team for the second round Castle Lager Rugby Championship clash against Argentina on Saturday in Mendoza. The match in the Estadio Malvinas Argentina starts at 21h10 (SA time) and will be televised live on SuperSport1.
Mostert was rested for last weekend’s Springbok victory over the Pumas in Durban following his heavy workload so far this year. He comes back into the starting team for Saturday’s Test and will form a second row partnership with Eben Etzebeth, which sees Pieter-Steph du Toit moving to the bench as cover.
There are two more changes amongst the forward replacements. RG Snyman (lock) makes a return to the match 23 in place of Marvin Orie, who is not touring, while Wilco Louw (prop) rotates places with Thomas du Toit.
SA Rugby’s Director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus, explained the inclusion of Mostert in the starting fifteen: “Franco needed rest after Vodacom Super Rugby and the June internationals and we therefore didn’t consider him for Durban. He’s been our first-choice No 5 lock and that’s why is starting on Saturday.”
Erasmus kept his backline unchanged and also resisted the temptation to tweak his loose forward combination.
“I want to us to build more continuity and those combinations now have another opportunity to play together and gain more experience,” said Erasmus.
Regarding Saturday’s challenge against Argentina, Erasmus said: “We’ve always rated them as a very physical team and we felt the game (in Durban) was physical. They’re going to step it up and I think they will come hard at our mauling, scrums and the breakdowns.”
The Springboks travel to Mendoza on Friday where they will conclude their match preparations.
The Springbok team to face Argentina in Mendoza (in alphabetical order – name and surname, franchise/club, Test caps and points):
15. Willie le Roux (Wasps, England, 45, 55 – 11t)
14. Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks, 2, 15 – 3t)
13. Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks, 4, 5 – 1t)
12. André Esterhuizen (Cell C Sharks, 3, 0)
11. Aphiwe Dyantyi (Emirates Lions, 4, 15 – 3t)
10. Handré Pollard (Vodacom Bulls, 30, 250 – 3t, 44c, 46p, 3d)
9. Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks, England, 15, 10 – 2t)
8. Warren Whiteley (Emirates Lions, No 8, 18, 15 – 3t)
7. Siya Kolisi (captain, DHL Stormers, 32, 20 – 4t)
6. Francois Louw (Bath, England, 58, 45 – 9t)
5. Franco Mostert (Emirates Lions, 21, 5 – 1t)
4. Eben Etzebeth (DHL Stormers, 68, 15 – 3t)
3. Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers, 20, 0)
2. Malcolm Marx (Emirates Lions, 15, 15 – 3t)
1. Tendai Mtawarira (Cell C Sharks, 102, 10 – 2t)
16. Bongi Mbonambi (DHL Stormers, 17, 5 – 1t)
17. Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers, 28, 5 – 1t)
18. Wilco Louw (DHL Stormers, 7, 0)
19. RG Snyman (Vodacom Bulls, 3, 0)
20. Pieter-Steph du Toit (DHL Stormers, 37, 20 – 4t)
21. Embrose Papier (Vodacom Bulls, 3, 0)
22. Lionel Mapoe (Emirates Lions, 13, 0)
23. Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers, 1, 0)
Stats and facts:
· The total Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is 437. There are 103 caps in the backline with 334 caps amongst the forwards. On the bench there are a further 109 caps.
· The average caps per player in the backline are 15, the forwards 42 while the players on the bench average 14. The average age of the starting 15 is 26.
· Handré Pollard needs 21 points during this tournament for 100 points in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship. He also needs six points in this Test to reach 50 career points against Argentina.
· Mendoza is situated on the eastern side of the Andes Mountains, approximately 750m above sea level. The driving distance between Mendoza and Buenos Aires is 1 050 km.
· It will be the third time that the Springboks will face Argentina in a Test match at this stadium, which was opened in 1978. The stadium’s seating capacity is 42 500.
· The first Castle Lager Rugby Championship match against Argentina in Mendoza was played on 25 August 2012, the year when Argentina were introduced to competition. On that occasion the Test match ended in a draw 16-16. The second Championship match against Argentina in Mendoza took place almost exactly one year later on 24 August, 2013 when South Africa won 22-17.
· On Saturday, there will be five players who played in that Test match five years ago. They are Willie le Roux, Francois Louw, Eben Etzebeth, Tendai Mtawarira and Siya Kolisi.
· The Springbok record at this stadium – P: 2; W: 1; D: 1; PF: 38; PA: 33; TF: 2; TA: 3; Average score: 19-17; Win%: 50%.
· South Africa’s overall record against Argentina: P: 27; W: 24; L: 2; D: 1; PF: 969; PA: 531; TF: 115; TA: 49; Average score: 36-20. Win%: 89%.
· South Africa’s record in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship against Argentina: P: 12; W: 9; L: 2; D: 1; PF: 375; PA: 234; TF: 41; TA: 22; Average score: 31-20. Win%: 75%.
· The Springboks’ best performance in Argentina was in 2004 when they won with a margin of 32 (39-7) in Buenos Aires. Their highest score is 52 (52-23) in 1993, also in Buenos Aires. On two occasions they have scored 7 tries against the Pumas, both occasions in Buenos Aires.
· Tendai Mtawarira is now the most capped Springbok against Argentina (15 Tests). He surpassed Bryan Habana’s 14 Test caps against the Pumas in last Saturday’s Test match in Durban.
· Mtawarira will play in his 103rd Test match, thereby surpassing Percy Montgomery (102) for most Test matches in the Green and Gold and this will move him into fifth place of Springbok centurions. Victor Matfield (127), Habana (124), John Smit (111) and Jean de Villiers (109) being the four Springboks with more Test matches.
· The referee is Angus Gardner of Australia. He was born on 24 August 1984 in Sydney, Australia. His first Test match was in November, 2011 in a match between Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu and to date, Angus has refereed in 15 Test matches – three Tests involving South Africa.
· The assistant referees are Ben O’Keeffe of New Zealand and Andrew Brace of Ireland while Simon McDowell of Ireland is set to perform TMO duties.