Preview: Barbarians v South Africa

Date published: November 4 2016

South Africa must use their match against the Barbarians at Wembley on Saturday to build their confidence for the rest of their November tour.

South African rugby has been in turmoil for much of 2016 after embarrassing defeats to New Zealand and a first ever loss to Ireland on home soil.

They have since held a coaching indaba in a bid to find solutions and have also added Cheetahs coach Franco Smith and Lions defence specialist JP Ferreira to their coaching ranks for the November tour. Louis Koen has also been brought back as kicking coach.

Whether these consultants have had enough time to make a significant difference to the way the Boks play remains to be seen, but they should use the Barbarians clash to practice some of those ideas and structures before they meet England at Twickenham next week.

Because this fixture falls outside World Rugby’s Test window, Allister Coetzee has been forced to pick a new-look side containing nine uncapped players. While the match does not enjoy Test status, these players will get the opportunity to stake a claim for the future with some inspiring performances.

The newcomers in the starting line-up are RG Snyman (lock), Roelof Smit (flank), Jamba Ulengo (wing), Rohan Janse van Rensburg (inside centre), Francois Venter (outside centre) and Sergeal Petersen (wing).

Tendai Mtawarira (prop), Pieter-Steph du Toit (lock) and Oupa Mohoje (flank) are the only players in the pack that started for the Springboks against the All Blacks in Durban last month.

There is a return to the starting team for Lourens Adriaanse in the number three jersey in place of Vincent Koch who is not available for this match, while Julian Redelinghuys is injured. Snyman will partner Du Toit, the newly-crowned SA Rugby Player of the Year, in the second-row.

Openside flanker Smit comes in for the injured Francois Louw, while Jaco Kriel could also not be considered as a result of his injury. The final change in the pack will see Nizaam Carr taking over the number eight jersey from Warren Whiteley who is also not available for this match.

The Boks will start with a revamped half-back pairing in Rudy Paige (scrum-half) and new skipper Lambie (fly-half), with regular captain, Adriaan Strauss, not in the match 23 as part of the succession planning in his position.

The rest of the backline consists of Ulengo, Janse van Rensburg, Venter, Petersen and Jesse Kriel, who will start his first match for the Boks at full-back.

As the November Tests return, we pen our thoughts in a betting preview for sports bookmaker Betsafe. 

The Barbarians will field four South African-born players with New Zealand’s Ben Franks and Ireland’s Tommy Bowe joining the squad next week to take on Fiji.

Stormers fly-half Robert du Preez, Lions hooker Akker van der Merwe, Hurricanes prop Reggie Goodes and Lions lock Martin Muller all start against their fellow countrymen with young Lions flanker Ruan Ackermann on the bench.

There are seven capped players in the match day squad with New Zealand’s 2011 World Cup winner Andy Ellis captaining the side.

Du Preez’s father – also named Robert – won seven caps in the 1990s. This weekend the Barbarians are taking on South Africa for the eighth time since 1952 and lead the series 4-3 after victories in 2007 and 2010.

The famous invitation side won 26-20 in 2010 when tries from Australia’s Drew Mitchell (2), James O’Connor and Italy’s Quintin Geldenhuys secured victory.

Ellis appeared in that game and understands the unique way the Barbarians combine talented performers from around the globe in the space of a few days before taking on established international teams.

It was a pretty special moment beating South Africa last time,” he said. “It’s a beautiful thing. You make friendships. I’m still in touch with the guys I played with in 2010.

“This new team has come together, we’re getting on well and we’re having fun and now it’s just about fronting up and making sure we perform at the weekend. We understand how proud the Barbarians are and we’ve got a real job to do here.

“The guys want to play for themselves, for the club, for their families – all sorts of different motivations but we’re in a pretty good place. Boks taking on the Boks helps. They’ll certainly want to prove themselves.”

Players to watch:

For South Africa: With Francois Louw and Jaco Kriel out injured for the rest of the season all eyes will be on Roelof Smit in the number six jersey. Smit had an outstanding Currie Cup season for the Blue Bulls, but the questions remains can he be an effective fetcher on the big stage. The centre pairing of Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Francois Venter looks exciting on paper and could give Coetzee something to think about with a strong performance in midfield. With captain Adriaan Strauss retiring at the end of the tour, Malcolm Marx will be keen to prove his worth at hooker where he faces strong competition from Bongi Mbonambi.

For Barbarians: Seta Tamanivalu will offer a stern test to Janse van Rensburg and Venter on defence with his quick, direct running while Luke Whitelock could be a handful up front as a strong ball carrier.

Head-to-head: Pat Lambie returns to captain the Boks and will come up against Stormers fly-half Robert du Preez. The South Africans will know each other well and while Lambie is the better kicker and defender, Du Preez is more of a running fly-half who’s job it will be to get the Barbarian backline going. Lambie must prove his match sharpness after a long injury lay-off this year and Du Preez, who hasn’t alsways convinced at Super Rugby level, will want to show he is just as talented as his younger brother Jean-Luc, who is on the bench for South Africa.

Prediction: Coetzee says the Boks won’t be out to entertain the crowd but the Barbarians will open up the game. It will be interesting to see how the Boks respond to that, but they need a win before they take on England. Boks to edge it by 3-5 points.

The teams:

Barbarians: 15 Melani Nanai (Blues), 14 Matt Faddes (Highlanders), 13 Seta Tamanivalu (Crusaders & New Zealand), 12 Richard Buckman (Highlanders & Panasonic), 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro (Waratahs, Panasonic & Australia), 10 Robert du Preez (Stormers), 9 Andy Ellis (Crusaders, Kobelco Steelers & New Zealand), 8 Luke Whitelock (Highlanders & New Zealand), 7 Jordan Taufua (Crusaders), 6 Brad Shields (Hurricanes), 5 Michael Fatialofa (Hurricanes), 4 Martin Muller (Lions), 3 Paddy Ryan (Waratahs & Australia), 2 Akker van der Merwe (Lions), 1 Reggie Goodes (Hurricanes)
Replacements: 16 Andrew Ready (Reds), 17 Schalk van der Merwe (Montpellier), 18 Toby Smith (Rebels & Australia), 19 Sam Carter (Brumbies & Australia), 20 Ruan Ackermann (Lions), 21 Nic Stirzaker (Rebels), 22 Richard Mo’unga (Crusaders), 23 Luke Morahan (Force & Australia)

South Africa: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Ruan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Patrick Lambie (c), 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Roelof Smith, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Rudolf Snyman, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Eben Etzebeth, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tiaan Schoeman, 23 Ruan Combrinck

Date: Saturday, November 5
Venue: Wembley Stadium, London
Kick-off: 15:00 local
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)