A combined England and Springboks XV ahead of their Rugby World Cup semi-final

David Skippers
England v SA combined XV RWC feature image.jpg

England's Ben Earl and South Africa's Cheslin Kolbe.

The Rugby World Cup semi-finals have finally arrived and one of the blockbuster encounters sees England and South Africa going head-to-head at the Stade de France in Paris on Saturday.

With both sides having named their matchday squads, Planet Rugby has put together a combined XV for the clash.

Combined England and South Africa XV

15 Damian Willemse (South Africa): The 25-year-old utility back has made the Springboks‘ number 15 jersey his own with several superb performances during the Rugby World Cup. Willemse possesses a wicked side-step which means he’s a real handful and unpredictable when launching attacks from the back. Although England‘s Freddie Steward has superior aerial skills, Willemse is no slouch in that department but the Bok also possesses excellent playmaking talents which makes him a real threat to any defence.

14 Kurt-Lee Arendse (South Africa): One of two pocket rockets in the Bok starting line-up, Arendse’s impressive strike rate of scoring 13 tries in as many Tests makes him a shoo-in for our team as he beats out Jonny May, who has fought his way back into England’s starting line-up after initially being left out of their World Cup squad. Arendse is blessed with plenty of pace and quick feet and as his try-scoring record shows, he knows his way to the line.

13 Jesse Kriel (South Africa): The 29-year-old has done well since coming into the Boks’ first choice starting line-up for the injured Lukhanyo Am and his form has been going on an upward trajectory over the past few weeks in France. Kriel’s defence has been outstanding throughout the World Cup but he has also shown some deft touches with ball in hand, especially his distribution skills. England’s Joe Marchant has also impressed but Kriel gets in ahead of him.

12 Damian de Allende (South Africa): Although Manu Tuilagi has impressed for England at the global showpiece so far, De Allende’s selection has been a deserved one as he’s been rock solid whenever he has played for the Boks in the tournament. De Allende showed his class in the Boks’ quarter-final win over France with a fine all-round showing as he kept the defence busy with some barnstorming runs and an impressive defensive effort. The Boks will want more of that this weekend.

11 Cheslin Kolbe (South Africa): Although Elliot Daly has performed adequately for England in the World Cup, Kolbe comes in ahead of him after shining for South Africa during their campaign. The Boks’ other pocket rocket is a genuine superstar of the international game and is renowned as one of the most dangerous attackers at the World Cup. Apart from his game-breaking ability, the speedster punches above his weight on defence and keeps goal-kickers on their toes when they line up shots at goal.

Exciting half-back duo

10 Owen Farrell (England): South Africa’s Manie Libbok has caught the eye with some fine displays at the World Cup while fellow Bok Handre Pollard has also had his moments but we could not ignore Farrell, who highlighted his importance to Red Rose cause with an outstanding display in his side’s quarter-final win over Fiji. Farrell shone off the kicking tee as he finished with a 20-point haul while his game management was also of a high standard.

9 Cobus Reinach (South Africa): The 33-year-old is one of the best attacking scrum-halves in the game and has nailed down the Springbok number nine jersey after some fine performances at the global showpiece. Reinach caught the eye with a well-taken hat-trick in a one-sided victory over Romania during the pool stage and did well during the Boks’ quarter-final win against France. Blessed with plenty of pace, he is sure to keep England’s defence busy around the fringes of the rucks and mauls.

8 Ben Earl (England): The Saracens stalwart comes into our team ahead of South African counterpart Duane Vermuelen, which takes some doing as the Bok veteran delivered a fine performance in their win over France. However, Earl has been in outstanding form throughout the competition and has cemented himself as England’s first choice number eight. The 25-year-old’s all-action style of play makes him a handful with ball in hand and he is also a menace at the breakdowns and on defence.

7 Siya Kolisi (South Africa): The Springbok skipper made a miraculous comeback from a knee injury shortly before the World Cup and has impressed with several outstanding showings during their campaign at the global showpiece. A powerful ball carrier and excellent defender, the 32-year-old’s high work-rate will come in handy as the Boks look to defend their title in Paris. England tearaway Tom Curry has also shone since returning from suspension but it’s Kolisi who gets the nod for our side.

6 Courtney Lawes (England): This was the toughest decision to make as Bok hard man Pieter-Steph du Toit has also shone for the world champions but Lawes cracks the nod by the narrowest of margins. The 34-year-old has been at the forefront of the Red Rose’s forward effort throughout the World Cup and was at his best in the quarter-final win against Fiji. Lawes has been solid in the lineouts while he has shone on attack, defence and at the breakdowns.

Boks aplenty in the tight five

5 Maro Itoje (England): Springbok utility forward Franco Mostert has impressed with some superb showings for the world champions in recent weeks, but Itoje has also done well for the Red Rose during that time and although he usually plays as a number four lock, we had to find space for him in this team. Itoje has been brilliant in the lineouts but also impressed as a ball carrier and on defence while his breakdown work is just as impressive.

4 Eben Etzebeth (South Africa): Although the Springbok enforcer was yellow carded in the Boks’ narrow quarter-final triumph over France, his overall performance in that encounter was of a very high standard and his selection for this position was a no-brainer. The 31-year-old’s abrasive style gives his side momentum in the forward exchanges while he is also a valuable source of possession at the front of the lineout. He’s ultra solid in defence and popped up with a fine try against Les Bleus at a crucial stage of that match.

3 Frans Malherbe (South Africa): England veteran Dan Cole has done a good job for his country at this World Cup but Malherbe beats him to our team after several fine showings for South Africa. The Bok tighthead prop came into the tournament with a reputation as one of the best scrummagers in the business and he has continued with his excellent form in that facet of play.

2 Bongi Mbonambi (South Africa): After a knee injury ended Malcolm Marx’s participation at the World Cup, there was plenty of pressure on Mbonambi as he was the only genuine hooker left in the Bok squad. However, the 32-year-old has given a good account of himself and in the quarter-final victory over France he walked off with the man-of-the-match award after coming to the fore with a fine all-round display. He beats out Red Rose counterpart Jamie George.

1 Steven Kitshoff (South Africa): The Ulster-bound loosehead prop comes into side ahead of the England duo of Joe Marler and Ellis Genge, who have both been solid for their country in France. However, Kitshoff has been his usual solid self in execution of his core duties with his scrummaging and defensive work superb throughout. Kitshoff’s ball carrying and breakdown work has also been of a high standard.

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