Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has made five changes to his match-23 – four of them necessitated by injury – as the South Africans look to bounce back from when they face Ireland in the second Test in the Castle Lager Incoming Series in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The two changes in the starting line-up are because of injury, with Pieter-Steph du Toit and Elton Jantjies replacing Lood de Jager and Pat Lambie respectively, while the Emirates Lions duo of Franco Mostert and Ruan Combrinck are on the bench and could make their Test debut at their home ground. In the final change, Morne Steyn is added to the bench as flyhalf cover.
The second Test of the three-match series kicks off at 17h00 at the Emirates Airline Park Stadium in Johannesburg. Ireland won by 26-20 in Cape Town last weekend.
De Jager sustained a calf injury last week in Cape Town and although he finished the match against the Irish and was able to participate in training on Monday, subsequent follow-up scans revealed he has suffered a calf strain. He was not considered for action this week, which means a start for Du Toit alongside his DHL Stormers lock partner Eben Etzebeth.
Jantjies takes over the flyhalf duties after Lambie was ruled out with concussion and will make his first start for the Boks at his home ground. The vastly experienced Steyn, who has 60 Tests to his name, is included on the bench after joining the squad on Monday.The inclusion of Du Toit in the starting line-up means a first appearance on the replacement bench for Mostert, who has so far this season caught the attention with numerous impressive performances at lock for the Emirates Lions in Vodacom Super Rugby.
In the only other change to the match-day squad, Combrinck gets the nod as the utility backline player. The Emirates Lions flyer has been in fine form for the Highveld franchise so far this season in Vodacom Super Rugby. He is a deadly finisher on the right wing and is equally at home in the fullback position.
Mostert and Combrinck will join Bongi Mbonambi (hooker) as the only uncapped players on the bench.
Coetzee described Saturday’s clash on the Highveld as a massive one, and said the squad have worked hard to rectify their mistakes.
“We spoke hard and were very frank in our assessment of last week’s performance,” said Coetzee.
“The Springboks are capable of executing the fundamentals of the game much better and that’s what we will set out do on Saturday. We know Ireland will come with a real desire to clinch the series, however, we must be ready to confront them and put ourselves into a position to succeed.
“I believe players who played in Cape Town deserve another opportunity and I am looking forward to see what they can do this week.”
The Bok coach explained his decision to make minimal changes to the side after the Boks suffered their first defeat against Ireland in Cape Town last Saturday: “We said we will not hit the panic button, and the decision to go with largely the same match-day squad is to give our players the opportunity to redeem themselves.
“Lood experienced some trouble on Monday and scans revealed he suffered a calf strain, so he won’t be in action this weekend. And Elton comes in for Pat, who is out with concussion and he will have his franchise halfback partner Faf de Klerk next to him.
“Morne Steyn still has a lot to offer at international level and his experience from the bench will no doubt prove valuable for us. Pieter-Steph gave a good account of himself last week when he came on for Lood and he now has a chance to make another good impact from the start,” explained Coetzee.
“Ruan has been playing very good rugby and so has Franco. I will look to the bench to maintain the intensity and again bring impact off the bench,” added Coetzee.
The Springboks will wrap up their preparations on Friday morning with the customary Captain’s Run at Emirates Airline Park, the scene of many memorable Springbok performances in the past.
The Springbok team to face Ireland in Johannesburg:
|Position||Name||Franchise / Club||Test Caps||Test points|
|15||Willie le Roux||Cell C Sharks||35||45|
|14||JP Pietersen||Cell C Sharks||67||115|
|13||Lionel Mapoe||Emirates Lions||2||0|
|12||Damian De Allende||DHL Stormers||14||5|
|11||Lwazi Mvovo||Cell C Sharks||16||30|
|10||Elton Jantjies||Emirates Lions||3||13|
|9||Faf de Klerk||Emirates Lions||1||0|
|8||Duane Vermeulen||Toulon, France||36||10|
|7||Siya Kolisi||DHL Stormers||14||0|
|6||Francois Louw||Bath, England||44||40|
|5||Pieter-Steph du Toit||DHL Stormers||9||5|
|4||Eben Etzebeth||DHL Stormers||45||10|
|3||Frans Malherbe||DHL Stormers||13||0|
|2||Adriaan Strauss (captain)||Vodacom Bulls||55||30|
|1||Tendai Mtawarira||Cell C Sharks||76||10|
|16||Bongi Mbonambi||DHL Stormers||0||0|
|17||Trevor Nyakane||Vodacom Bulls||24||5|
|18||Julian Redelinghuys||Emirates Lions||3||0|
|19||Franco Mostert||Emirates Lions||0||0|
|20||Warren Whiteley||Emirates Lions||4||0|
|21||Rudy Paige||Vodacom Bulls||3||0|
|22||Morne Steyn||Stade Francais||60||694|
|23||Ruan Combrinck||Emirates Lions||0||0|
Stats and facts:
- The Springbok starting team boasts a total of 430 Test caps (138 in the backline and 292 in the forwards), while there are a further 94 caps worth of experience on the bench.
- South Africa and Ireland have played each other 23 times since 1906, with the Springboks winning 16 Tests, losing six and one was drawn. The Springboks have scored 452 points and 64 tries and conceded 303 points and 28 tries for an average score of 20-13.
- South Africa and Ireland last met on 11 June 2016 at DHL Newlands in Cape Town. The Springboks lost 20-26 – the first ever defeat to Ireland on South African soil.
- There are three uncapped players on the bench, Bongi Mbonambi, Franco Mostert and Ruan Combrinck. The first one to go on will become Springbok #871.
- Tendai Mtawarira is the most experienced player in the side with 76 Tests to his credit. He is just four Tests short of Os du Randt’s record of 80 Tests for South Africa as prop. There are three other players in the side with more than 50 Tests for South Africa, namely JP Pietersen (67), Morne Steyn (60) and Adriaan Strauss (55).
- If he goes on as flyhalf Morne Steyn will extend his own record of 58 Test appearances at flyhalf for the Springboks. He is currently on 694 points and can become only the second player in history to score more than 700 Test points for South Africa. His total appearances for South Africa are as follows: 59 at flyhalf (58 in Tests, one in a tour match), one at fullback and one as a replacement flank, against Scotland in November, 2013.
- The referee is Angus Gardner of Australia. It will be his first Test involving South Africa.
- It will be the 48th Test match at Emirates Airline Park (previously known as Ellis Park). The Boks have won 32, lost 13 and two were drawn. The average score is 26-16.
Springbok Test match records at Emirates Airline Park (previously known as Ellis Park):
- Most points – 28 by Gavin Johnson (3t, 5c, 1p) against Samoa on 13 April, 1995 (the opponents were then still called Western Samoa).
- Most tries – four by Chester Williams against Samoa on 13 April, 1995 (the opponents were then still called Western Samoa) and by Jongi Nokwe against Australia on 30 August, 2008.
- Most conversions – nine by Butch James against Argentina on 9 August, 2008.
- Most penalty goals – six by Percy Montgomery against France on 16 June, 2001 and by Louis Koen against Scotland on 14 June, 2003.
- Most drop goals – two by Joel Stransky against New Zealand on 24 June, 1995 and by Jannie de Beer against New Zealand on 19 July, 1997.