Springboks bulk up for England clash

Date published: November 10 2016

Francois Venter will make his debut for the Springboks against England while Willem Alberts will start his first Test for South Africa in more than a year.

Only five players who started in the 31-31 draw against the Barbarians last week at Wembley were again included in a much changed line-up for the Test against the English. They are Beast Mtawarira (prop), Pieter-Steph du Toit (flank), Rudy Paige (scrum-half), Pat Lambie (fly-half) and Francois Venter (outside centre).

Venter will make his Test debut on Saturday following his good showing last week at Wembley and his centre partner is Damian de Allende, who will win his 21st cap for the Springboks.

The injury to Roelof Smit and a host of other flankers, as well as the unavailability of other experienced loose forwards, meant Springbok coach Allister Coetzee was forced into revamping his loose trio. The Bok coach decided to move Du Toit from second row to the side of the scrum, a position he is familiar with, as he will bring much-needed ball carrying ability and more lineout options.

The experienced Willem Alberts will start on the other side of the scrum, while Warren Whiteley retains the number eight jersey he wore throughout the Rugby Championship. The last time Alberts started a Test for the Boks was against Argentina in Buenos Aires in August 2015.

Du Toit’s positional switch means a return to the starting team for Lood de Jager, who sat out the Barbarians fixture because of a one-match suspension.

In the front row, hooker Adriaan Strauss returns to action and he takes over the captaincy from Lambie who led the side at Wembley. Vincent Koch will play at tighthead prop and Lourens Adriaanse moves to the bench.

The halfback combination of Paige and Lambie are kept unchanged. Wing JP Pietersen returns to the side and will wear the No 11 jersey, the position he usually plays for his club side, the Leicester Tigers.

Bryan Habana has showed significant improvement this week, however he is not yet 100% ready and it was decided not to risk him with two more Tests to come on the tour.

Ruan Combrinck will do duty on the right wing, and Willie le Roux at full-back, which means a return to the back three that played in the three Test series against Ireland in June.

Coetzee said the number of injuries, and to players in specific positions, gave him the opportunity to test certain new combinations.

“We are going to use this tour also to test various combinations and rotate players to ensure we move in the right direction,” said Coetzee.

“The challenge this week will definitely start up front as the English pack paved the way for their series win over the Wallabies in Australia. It will be a physical challenge and the set-piece battle could prove to be the decisive.

“I believe we have selected the best available team for this Saturday. We have a long list of injured loose forwards, with all of Roelof Smit, Marcell Coetzee, Francois Louw, Jaco Kriel, Siya Kolisi and Sikumbuzo Notshe injured, while a couple are also unavailable for selection.”

Coetzee said a daunting task awaits his side on Saturday at Twickenham: “England have a lot of belief at the moment – they have won their last nine matches since the appointment of Eddie Jones as coach.

“They are always formidable at Twickenham and matches involving our two countries have always delivered close fought encounters. They are an extremely well-coached side with no apparent weaknesses and their away series win in Australia proved why they are currently second in the world rankings.

“They are definite favourites, but we are looking forward to another huge battle against them,” said Coetzee.

Captain Strauss will lead the Springboks for the tenth consecutive Test match, while lock Eben Etzebeth will play in his 31st consecutive Test for the Springboks.

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Willem Alberts, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Johan Goosen, 23 Lionel Mapoe

Date: Saturday, November 12
Venue: Twickenham
Time: 14:30 local (14:30 GMT)
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant Referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Andrew Brace (Ireland)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)