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Warren Whiteley (No 8) and Ruan Combrinck (wing) will make their first starts for the Springboks in the deciding third Test against Ireland in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

The inclusion of these two players are the only changes to the starting team announced by Springbok coach Allister Coetzee for the third Castle Lager Incoming Series Test against the Irish in the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Coetzee also made three changes to the bench.

Whiteley replaces the experienced Duane Vermeulen, who is out with an elbow injury, while Combrinck, man of the match in last week’s win over the Irish in Johannesburg, gets the starting nod over Lwazi Mvovo, who is now on the bench.

An ankle injury has ruled out prop Trevor Nyakane, and his place amongst the reserves is filled by the uncapped Steven Kitshoff. He is joined on the bench by another uncapped player, Jaco Kriel, who comes into the match day squad for the first time during the series.Adriaan Strauss will lead the Boks for the third time on Saturday, with the hooker looking to lead the South Africans to a series win over Ireland. The series is currently tied 1-1 after Ireland’s opening win in Cape Town and the Springboks’ victory last week on the Highveld.

The Springboks have been hard at work this week to prepare themselves for what promises to be another intriguing battle between the two sides. Coetzee said the Boks are looking forward to playing the Irish in PE.

“It will be another huge battle between the sides on Saturday,” said Coetzee.

“Both sides have suffered injuries before and during the series, but that it is part of the game and it again provides opportunities for others to come in and stake their claim.

“Jaco has been close to selection every time and he now gets his chance in the match day squad. Steven has worked extremely hard since we got together as a team and he also has an opportunity to show his promise should he take to the field.

“We know what is at stake on Saturday – it’s a matter of winner takes all scenario. This group of players will continue to grow together as a team and Saturday they have the opportunity to gain more experience by playing together.”

The Springbok team to face Ireland in Port Elizabeth:

Position Name Franchise / Club Test Caps Test points
15 Willie le Roux Cell C Sharks 36 45
14 Ruan Combrinck Emirates Lions 1 5
13 Lionel Mapoe Emirates Lions 3 0
12 Damian De Allende DHL Stormers 15 10
11 JP Pietersen Cell C Sharks 68 115
10 Elton Jantjies Emirates Lions 4 25
9 Faf de Klerk Emirates Lions 2 0
8 Warren Whiteley Emirates Lions 5 5
7 Siya Kolisi DHL Stormers 15 0
6 Francois Louw Bath, England 45 40
5 Pieter-Steph du Toit DHL Stormers 10 5
4 Eben Etzebeth DHL Stormers 46 10
3 Frans Malherbe DHL Stormers 14 0
2 Adriaan Strauss (captain) Vodacom Bulls 56 30
1 Tendai Mtawarira Cell C Sharks 77 10
16 Bongi Mbonambi DHL Stormers 0 0
17 Steven Kitshoff Bordeaux, France 0 0
18 Julian Redelinghuys Emirates Lions 4 0
19 Franco Mostert Emirates Lions 1 0
20 Jaco Kriel Emirates Lions 0 0
21 Rudy Paige Vodacom Bulls 3 0
22 Morne Steyn Stade Francais, France 61 694
23 Lwazi Mvovo Cell C Sharks 17 30

Stats and facts:

  • The Springbok starting team boasts a total of 397 Test caps (129 in the backline and 268 in the forwards), while there are a further 86 caps worth of experience on the bench.
  • South Africa and Ireland have played each other 24 times since 1906, with the Springboks winning 17 Tests, losing six and one was drawn. The Springboks have scored 484 points and 68 tries and conceded 329 points and 30 tries for an average score of 20-14.
  • South Africa and Ireland last met on 18 June 2016 at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg. The Springboks beat Ireland 32-26 after trailing by 3-19 at half-time and staged a magnificent comeback in the second half by scoring four tries and clinching the Test.
  • There are three uncapped players on the bench, Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff and Jaco Kriel. The first one to go on will become Springbok #873. Kriel went on the 2014 end of year tour but did not play in any matches while Kitshoff was part of the training squad in 2015.
  • Tendai Mtawarira is the most experienced player in the side with 77 Tests to his credit. He is just three Tests short of Os du Randt’s record of 80 Tests at prop for South Africa. Three other players in the side – captain Adriaan Strauss with 56, Morné Steyn with 61 and JP Pietersen with 68 – have also played more than 50 Tests for South Africa.
  • If he goes on at flyhalf Morne Steyn will extend his own record of 59 appearances in this position 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.
  • The referee is Glen Jackson New Zealand. It will be his third Test involving South Africa. The Springbok have won both previous Tests where he was the referee – against Scotland by 55-6 in Port Elizabeth in 2014 and against Argentina by 26-12 in Buenos Aires in 2015.
  • It will be the fourth Test match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth. The Boks have won two, against New Zealand in 2011 and Scotland in 2014, and drawn one, against England in 2012. The average score is 29-8.

Springbok Test match records at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium (PE):

o   Most points – 18 by Morne Steyn (5p, 1dg) against New Zealand on 20 August, 2011.

o   Most tries – two by Lood de Jager, Marcell Coetzee and Lwazi Mvovo, all against Scotland on 28 June, 2014.

o   Most conversions – five by Handré Pollard against Scotland on 28 June, 2014.

o   Most penalty goals – five by Morne Steyn against New Zealand on 20 August, 2011.

o   Most drop goals – one by Morne Steyn against New Zealand on 20 August, 2011.

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