South Africa: Eben Etzebeth set to become the youngest Springbok centurion

Dylan Coetzee

Eben Etzebeth becomes the seventh and youngest player ever to notch up 100 caps for the Springboks – joining Victor Matfield, Bryan Habana, Tendai Mtawarira, John Smit, Jean de Villiers and Percy Montgomery – after being named in the starting line-up for the series decider against Wales in Cape Town on Saturday.

The colossal lock is the only player to have started all three games in the series against Wales and is joined in the second-row by Lood de Jager, who returns to the XV as one of 11 changes.

Another milestone

Meanwhile, hooker Bongi Mbonambi will run out for his 50th cap after being named alongside Trevor Nyakane and Frans Malherbe in the front-row.

Siya Kolisi returns to captain the side and is joined by Pieter-Steph du Toit and Jasper Wiese in a revamped loose trio.

Young scrum-half Jaden Hendrickse retains his place in the starting XV after a decent outing in last weekend’s loss in Bloemfontein, with Handre Pollard named at fly-half as expected.

The tried and tested centre pairing of Damian De Allende and Lukhanyo Am return after being left out last week due to rotation as they look to continue their solid partnership in the midfield.

Electric wingers Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe return to the line-up, with first Test hero Damian Willemse starting at full-back for the series decider.

Bok coach Jacques Nienaber continues with the 6-2 split on the bench with Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff and Vincent Koch as the front-row replacements. Versatile Franco Mostert, Kwagga Smith and Elrich Louw make up the rest of the forward substitutes.

Scrum-half Faf de Klerk is named on the bench after an inaccurate performance in the first Test, whilst veteran Willie le Roux is the final player in the matchday squad.

Nienaber commended Etzebeth and Mbonambi’s contributions in a Springboks shirt.

“We are very proud of Eben and Bongi for their achievements, although it would be remiss of us as a team for that to out-shadow the fact that we need to win on Saturday to seal the series against Wales,” he said.

“Wales have shown over the years and in the last two matches that they are real fighters, and it will require a top-class performance from us on Saturday to register a victory and ultimately clinch the series.

“That said, Eben and Bongi have been true stalwarts to Springbok rugby, and we hope that we can make this a special occasion for them. No-one wants to remember losing their 100th or 50th Test, so we need to do everything we can to win the match.”

The coach claims the team selection is specific for this game and believes the right personnel are on the field to claim the decider.

“We selected a team and player combinations that we think will be the best for this specific game,” added Nienaber.

“We had an honest discussion with the players telling them what we require from them this weekend and what we would like to see in terms of their performance and hopefully they can produce the goods and we can get the desired result.

“We have high standards as a team, and we would like to maintain that and build momentum with a challenging season lying ahead.”

Complete performance needed

Nienaber says the Springboks will require an 80-minute performance to triumph over a spirited Wales side in Cape Town.

“We pointed out from the outset of the series that Wales will be desperate and they showed that in the last two weeks,” he explained.

“We are expecting another hard grind against them and the fact that they will be playing for their first series victory ever in South Africa will make them even more desperate to push us to the limit this weekend, so we know it will be an epic battle.

“That said, we are also playing in what is essentially a final for us and we know that we need to pitch up on the day and deliver a quality 80-minute performance to emerge victorious.”

South Africa: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Trevor Nyakane
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Elrigh Louw, 22 Faf de Klerk, 23 Willie le Roux

Date: Saturday, July 16
Venue: Cape Town Stadium
Kick-off: 17:05 local (16:05 BST, 15:05 GMT)
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant Referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Nika Amashukeli (Georgia)
TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia)

READ MORE: July internationals Team of the Week: Ireland lead the way after historic win over All Blacks


South Africa v Wales preview

Planet Rugby previews the series deciding third Test between South Africa and Wales at the Cape Town Stadium.