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Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has named Faf de Klerk as the only uncapped player in the starting team to face Ireland on Saturday at DHL Newlands in Cape Town, while Elton Jantjies has passed a fitness test and will start the first of three Castle Lager Incoming Series Tests between the two countries on the bench.

Coetzee has included six players in the match-23 who did not feature at the Rugby World Cup last year, ushering in a new era for Bok rugby. They are the Emirates Lions quintet of De Klerk, Jantjies, Warren Whiteley, Julian Redelinghuys and Lionel Mapoe, who will earn his first start for the Boks, as well as DHL Stormers hooker Bongi Mbonambi, the only other uncapped player in the match-day squad.

De Klerk has been in good form this season for the Emirates Lions in Vodacom Super Rugby and he earns a starting berth alongside experienced flyhalf Pat Lambie, who has played in 50 Tests for the Boks.

The Springbok coach said he is looking forward to seeing De Klerk earning his first Test cap for South Africa and that it was good to know Jantjies has fully recovered from his injury. The Emirates Lions flyhalf passed a fitness test at Thursday’s training session at the Cape Town Stadium.

“I have no doubt Faf will do a fantastic job,” said Coetzee.“He has lots of experience around him in the form of Pat next to him and Duane at the back of the scrum. So in that sense he will be looked after, but I know Faf can also look after himself.

“Both our flyhalves, Pat and Elton, have been in outstanding form in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition and it’s great to have both of them available and in the match day squad. To have a right and left foot kicker at halfback is always a good option,” said Coetzee

Adriaan Strauss will become the 57th player to lead out the Springboks as captain, with the 30-year old Vodacom Bulls hooker playing in his 55th Test for his country.

Strauss will pack down in the middle of the front row between Tendai Mtawarira, who has earned 75 Bok caps, and Frans Malherbe. Coetzee picked Lood de Jager and Eben Etzebeth as his lock pairing, while the loose trio consists of Francois Louw, Siya Kolisi and the experienced Duane Vermeulen.

Amongst the backs, Coetzee opted for an experienced all-Cell C Sharks back trio of Willie le Roux, JP Pietersen and Lwazi Mvovo. Emirates Lions outside centre Lionel Mapoe earns his second Bok cap and partners Damian de Allende in an exciting midfield.

A total of eight players in the run-on team started in the Springboks’ previous Test, last October, when the Boks defeated Argentina 24-13 in London to clinch the bronze medal the 2015 Rugby World Cup. They are Mtawarira, Malherbe, Etzebeth, Louw, Vermeulen, De Allende, Pietersen and Le Roux.

Coetzee said he was pleased with the balance of the team.

“I am excited about the composition of the team and the players selected are rewarded for their consistently good performances in Vodacom Super Rugby,” he said.

“We’ve worked extremely hard these past two weeks to become a team and to make sure we cover all the necessary areas so we can face the Irish.

“The big test will come up front where we will have to make sure that we do well at set pieces, especially at scrum and lineouts. Those are the areas where the Irish have been strong, so we want to compete there and set a platform so our backs can hopefully get into their rhythm.”

The Springbok team to face Ireland on Saturday at DHL Newlands:

Position Name Franchise / Club Test Caps Test points
15 Willie le Roux Cell C Sharks 34 45
14 JP Pietersen Cell C Sharks 66 115
13 Lionel Mapoe Emirates Lions 1 0
12 Damian De Allende DHL Stormers 13 5
11 Lwazi Mvovo Cell C Sharks 15 25
10 Pat Lambie Cell C Sharks 50 134
9 Faf de Klerk Emirates Lions 0 0
8 Duane Vermeulen Toulon, France 35 10
7 Siya Kolisi DHL Stormers 13 0
6 Francois Louw Bath, England 43 40
5 Lood de Jager Toyota Cheetahs 19 20
4 Eben Etzebeth DHL Stormers 44 10
3 Frans Malherbe DHL Stormers 12 0
2 Adriaan Strauss (captain) Vodacom Bulls 54 30
1 Tendai Mtawarira Cell C Sharks 75 10
16 Bongi Mbonambi DHL Stormers 0 0
17 Trevor Nyakane Vodacom Bulls 23 5
18 Julian Redelinghuys Emirates Lions 2 0
19 Pieter-Steph du Toit DHL Stormers 8 0
20 Warren Whiteley Emirates Lions 3 0
21 Rudy Paige Vodacom Bulls 2 0
22 Elton Jantjies Emirates Lions 2 6
23 Jesse Kriel Vodacom Bulls 11 15

Stats and facts:

·         The Springbok starting team boasts a total of 474 Test caps (179 in the backline and 295 in the forwards), while there are a further 51 caps worth of experience on the bench.

·         South Africa and Ireland have played each other 22 times since 1906, with the Springboks winning 16 Tests, losing five and one was drawn. The Springboks have scored 432 points and 62 tries and conceded 277 points and 26 tries for an average score of 20-13.

·         South Africa and Ireland last met on 8 November 2014 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. The Springboks lost 15-29 largely due to a contribution of 16 points from the boot of Jonathan Sexton. He kicked four penalties and two conversions.

·         Adriaan Strauss will become the 57th Springbok captain in history.

·         Faf de Klerk will become Springbok #870 in history. If he goes on, Bongi Mbonambi will become Springbok #871.

·         Tendai Mtawarira is the most experienced player in the side with 75 Tests to his credit. He is just five Tests short of Os du Randt’s record of 80 Tests for South Africa as prop. Three other players have played 50 or more Tests for South Africa – JP Pietersen with 66, Adriaan Strauss with 54 and Patrick Lambie with 50. The last time that the Springboks played without a centurion in their side was against Argentinia on 23 August, 2014 in Salta, some 20 Tests ago.

·         Adriaan Strauss played against his cousin Richardt Strauss the last two times the Springboks and Ireland met – in 2012 and 2014. They are likely to meet each other again as Richardt is in the Ireland squad for this tour.

·         Elton Jantjies last played in a Test for South Africa in 2012 and Julian Redelinghuys played his two Tests in 2014.

·         It will be Allister Coetzee’s first Test in charge of the Springboks since he took over from Heyneke Meyer earlier in 2016.

·         The referee is Mathieu Raynal of France. It will be his first Test involving South Africa.

·         This will be the Springboks’ 52nd Test match at DHL Newlands in Cape Town. The Boks have won 35 of the previous 51 matches, lost 14 and drawn twice. The average score at DHL Newlands is 19-12.

Springbok Test match records at Newlands Rugby Stadium:

·         Most points – 35 by Percy Montgomery (1t, 12c, 2p) against Namibia on 15 August, 2007.

·         Most tries – three by Tom van Vollenhoven against the British & Irish Lions on 20 August, 1955; by Andre Snyman against Tonga on 10 June, 1997; by Schalk Burger against Namibia on 15 August, 2007 and by Juan Smith against Namibia on 15 August, 2007.

·         Most conversions – 12 by Percy Montgomery against Namibia on 15 August, 2007.

·         Most penalty goals – seven by Percy Montgomery against France on 24 June, 2006 and by Morné Steyn against Australia on 8 August, 2009.

·         Most drop goals – two by Naas Botha against the NZ Cavaliers on 10 May, 1986 and by Francois Steyn against Australia on 16 June, 2007.

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