An unchanged Springbok starting side will take on Wales in the final Test match of the 2018 Castle Lager Outgoing Tour to the United Kingdom and Europe in Cardiff on Saturday.
The Test at the Principality Stadium, the fourth of the Springboks’ tour to the northern hemisphere, kicks off at 17h20 (19h20 SA time).
It will be the first time this season the Springboks run out with an unchanged line-up. There is however one change amongst the replacements, where Eben Etzebeth is set to provide impact off the bench. The experienced lock has recovered from his calf problem and comes into the 23-man squad in place of Lood de Jager.
The rest of the Springbok match squad that defeated Scotland 26-20 last Saturday in Edinburgh is unchanged for the final tour match.
Duane Vermeulen (No 8), Pieter-Steph du Toit (No 7 flank) and Siya Kolisi (No 6 flank and captain) will yet again form the loose trio, Franco Mostert and RG Snyman the lock combination while Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx and Steven Kitshoff will pack down in the front row.
Jesse Kriel will play in his 40th Test match for the Springboks and he lines up next to Damian de Allende in the midfield. Handré Pollard and Embrose Papier are the halfbacks and the back three consists of Willie le Roux (No 15) and speedsters Sbu Nkosi (No 14) and Aphiwe Dyantyi (No 11).
Following an agonising one-point loss to England at Twickenham at the start of the tour, the Springboks have subsequently gained hard-fought victories over France in Paris and Scotland.
Success over Wales at the Principality Stadium will mean the South Africans can finish the traditional end of year tour with three wins from four.
Rassie Erasmus, Director of Rugby, said the squad wants to finish the tour and international season a positive note.
“Wales have a formidable squad and their current run of eight unbeaten Tests is proof and also an indication of their good form at the moment,” said Erasmus.
“As I’ve said before, we know Saturday’s Test is going to be our most difficult match of the tour.”
The Springboks have shown growing maturity in their last couple of Tests and Erasmus wants another good effort in their last match of the season against the tough Welsh.
“Wales defeated us in Washington in June and have now won the last three games against us,” said Erasmus.
“They are a well-balanced and strong side with a great home record so our boys will be in for a massive contest on Saturday.
“We will be desperate to win, and to end the tour on a high would be fantastic for the experience and growth of this squad.”
The match will be televised live on SuperSport 1.
The Springbok team to face Wales in Cardiff (in order of name, surname, Test caps, Test points):
15. Willie le Roux (52, 60 – 12 tries)
14. Sbu Nkosi (6, 20 – 4t)
13. Jesse Kriel (39, 55 – 11t)
12. Damian de Allende (36, 20 – 4t)
11. Aphiwe Dyantyi (12, 30 – 6t)
10. Handré Pollard (38, 336 – 4t, 59c, 63p, 3d)
9. Embrose Papier (6, 0)
8 Duane Vermeulen (45, 15 – 3t)
7. Pieter-Steph du Toit (45, 20 – 4t)
6. Siya Kolisi (captain, 40, 25 – 5t)
5. Franco Mostert (28, 5 – 1t)
4. RG Snyman (11, 0)
3. Frans Malherbe (28, 0)
2. Malcolm Marx (23, 20 – 4t)
1. Steven Kitshoff (36, 5 – 1t)
16. Bongi Mbonambi (25, 15 – 3t)
17. Thomas du Toit (8, 0)
18. Vincent Koch (12, 0)
19. Eben Etzebeth (74, 15 – 3t)
20. Francois Louw (64, 45 – 9t)
21. Ivan van Zyl (5, 0)
22. Elton Jantjies (32, 226 – 2t, 42c, 44p)
23. Cheslin Kolbe (6, 10 – 2t)
Stats and facts:
· The total Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is 445 caps. There are 189 caps in the backline and 256 amongst the forwards, with a further 226 on the bench.
· The average caps per player in the backline are 27, the forwards are 32 while the players on the bench average 24. The average age of the starting 15 is 26.
· Pieter-Steph du Toit and Steven Kitshoff are the only two players who will have played in every Test match this season.
Record against Wales:
· South Africa’s record against Wales in Cardiff: P: 18; W: 13; L: 4; D: 1; PF: 370; PA: 296; TF: 41; TA: 23; Average score: 21-16; Win%: 72%.
· South Africa’s overall record against Wales is: P: 34; W: 28; L: 5; D: 1; PF: 892; PA: 532; TF: 108; TA: 45; Average score: 26-16. Win%: 84%.
· The top Springbok scorers against Wales are Percy Montgomery (91 points, 18 conversions and 10 penalty goals); Joost van der Westhuizen and Jean de Villiers (6 tries each); and Hansie Brewis, Lionel Wilson and Handré Pollard (1 drop goal each).
· The match records are held as follows: Percy Montgomery (31 points and 9 conversions); Joost van der Westhuizen and Pieter Rossouw (3 tries each); Butch James, Morné Steyn and Handré Pollard (5 penalty goals each); and Hansie Brewis, Lionel Wilson and Handré Pollard (1 drop goal each).
· South Africa’s biggest win against Wales (83 points) was on 27 June 1998 at Loftus Versfeld, when the Springboks ran in 15 tries in a 96-13 triumph. On the day, Percy Montgomery scored 31 points with two tries, nine conversions and a penalty goal.
· The Springboks’ biggest loss against Wales was on 26 November 2016 in Cardiff when Soputh Africa lost by 27-13.
· Hansie Brewis (1951), Lionel Wilson (1964) and Handré Pollard (2015) are the only Springboks who have scored a drop goal against Wales. With a successful drop goal against Wales, Handré could become the sole record holder for most drop goals in a career against Wales.
· Should Handré score 11 or more points in this Test match, he will surpass Butch James in third place for the most points in Tests against Wales. Percy Montgomery and Morné Steyn occupy the first two spots.
· The original ground where the Principality Stadium is now situated, was known as Cardiff Arms Park, where Wales have played their first Test 134 years ago.
· South Africa’s first Test against Wales at Cardiff Arms Park took place on 14 December 1912, when Billy Millar’s Springboks beat Wales 3-0 in front of 26 000 spectators.
· The old stadium at the Arms Park was demolished in 1997 to make way for the Millennium Stadium, which hosted the 1999 Rugby World Cup. The first Test match at this new stadium was between Wales and South Africa on 26 June 1999, when the Springboks ended on the losing side 19-29. It was South Africa’s first loss against Wales since 1906 in ironically the 13th Test between the two countries.
· Subsequently, the Springboks have won eight consecutive games at the stadium now known as the Principality Stadium, but lost the following three with the last one in 2017 by a narrow margin of two points.
· The seating capacity of the stadium is 74 500.
· The referee is Luke Pearce of England. This will be his 19th Test as a referee and the first one with the Springboks involved. The assistant referees are Wayne Barnes and Karl Dixon from England while Irishman Simon McDowell is the TMO.