Springboks: Rassie Erasmus makes history with selection for Ireland clash as 990 caps in starting XV

Adam Kyriacou
Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel in action for Springboks.

Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel in action for Springboks.

Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus has named the most experienced starting XV in the team’s history as a whopping 990 caps worth of talent starts against Ireland.

Erasmus has kept faith with the same matchday 23 that beat the Irish 27-20 at Loftus Versfeld last weekend as the Boks look to wrap up the two-Test series at Kings Park.

The 990 cap line-up in Durban surpasses the 987 number that the victorious 2023 Rugby World Cup final side boasted against the All Blacks in Paris late last year.

Midfield milestone

Furthermore, Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel will become the most-capped centre pairing in South African history when they combine in the midfield for the 30th time.

With 20 players in the squad having World Cup experience and eight players having made their Test season ‘debut’ last week – including captain Siya Kolisi, Handre Pollard and Cheslin Kolbe, among others – Erasmus is looking for a more clinical performance.

“It’s always tough facing Ireland,” said Erasmus. “They are a quality team, they are ranked second in the world, and as we saw last week, they never stop fighting, so we know the magnitude of the challenge that awaits us this weekend.

“We have no doubt they’ll come out even stronger this week, but we also identified the areas of the game that we need to improve on, and it’s vital for us to build on our performance in our quest to win both matches.”

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Of this being the most experienced starting team in Springbok history, Erasmus said: “We don’t really look at such things when we select the team, but this shows how blessed we are with the depth in the squad and the quality of the players we have.

“While it may be an impressive statistic, it will by no means guarantee us a victory. We know we must go out there and play good rugby for the full 80 minutes to get the desired result.”

Erasmus added that he was pleased with the showings from the younger players in the squad last Saturday – Gerhard Steenekamp, Salmaan Moerat, and Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu – and expected them to feel even more settled on the pitch this week.

“They all made a strong impact off the bench, and they have immense potential as individuals,” he said. “They’ll definitely become more confident and settled the more they play.

“It was really impressive to see them step up to the challenge of facing a top side such as Ireland, and similarly to the rest of the team, they know this weekend will be an even bigger test, but they’ll be up for the challenge.”

Springboks line-up

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Kwagga Smith, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 RG Snyman, 21 Marco van Staden, 22 Grant Williams, 23 Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu

Date: Saturday, July 13
Venue: Hollywoodbets Kings Park, Durban
Kick-off: 17:00 (16:00 BST)
Referee: Karl Dickson (RFU)
Assistant Referees: Angus Gardner (RA), Craig Evans (WRU)
TMO: Ian Tempest (RFU)

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