JOHANNESBURG — You have to wonder if Bok coach Rassie Erasmus would have made five changes to his team for Saturday’s 3rd Test against England at Newlands if this was a series decider. But with South Africa clinching the Test series 2-nil last week in Bloemfontein, the key motivating factor for the Boks is a series whitewash. Or Erasmus could use the Test as an opportunity to give other players a run and grow the depth of experience ahead of Rugby World Cup 2019, which is precisely what he’s done. It’s not clear if Schalk Brits, who will start off the bench, is part of Erasmus’s longer term plans given that the 37-year old already announced his retirement from all forms of the game and was at the Ellis Park Test as a spectator. He will earn his 11th cap, having been in the starting XV only once in a relatively short international career. Another hooker who has had more time on the bench than on the park, Chiliboy Ralepelle gets only his 4th start in 25 Test matches. A potentially exciting match-up is the centre pairing of the experienced Jesse Kriel and the highly-regarded but inexperienced Andre Esterhuizen. Warrick Gelant, who has impressed at the Bulls, gets his chance to show Erasmus that he’s a prospect for the future. – David O’Sullivan
From SA Rugby
The Springbok team for the third and final Test in the Castle Lager Incoming Series against England in Cape Town on Saturday, shows five changes from the starting team that beat the English last week in Bloemfontein.
Rassie Erasmus, the SA Rugby Director of Rugby, has picked Warrick Gelant at fullback, Jesse Kriel and Andre Esterhuizen in midfield, Elton Jantjies at flyhalf and Chiliboy Ralepelle at hooker for the amatch at DHL Newlands, which kicks off at 17h05.
The 37-year-old Schalk Brits (hooker) is on the replacements bench and is set to make his first Springbok appearance since the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The promising young scrumhalf Embrose Papier, who made his Springbok debut off the bench against Wales in Washington, was also named amongst the substitutions.
The Springboks have already clinched the three-match series between the two countries following last Saturday’s 23-12 victory in Bloemfontein, where front rower Tendai Mtawarira made his 100th Springbok Test appearance.
Mtawarira will again anchor the Bok scrum, this time with Ralepelle doing duty in the No 2 jersey, while Frans Malherbe gets a second successive start following last week’s return to the Bok tight five.
Erasmus has resisted the temptation of make wholesale changes and has instead opted for a couple of tweaks in areas where he wants to try different combinations.
“The series might be won but we still have an important Test match on Saturday, against a very determined English side who will be looking to end the series on a high,” explained Erasmus.
“I expect a very physical and close-fought game. We are desperate to win and make it 3-0 while England will be desperate to win the game, make it 2-1 and finish their tour on a positive note.”
Referring to the changes in the match 23, Erasmus said: “No one is out of the team because of a lack of form, the changes are due to our long term planning for next year’s Rugby World Cup as we continue to build squad depth and capacity.”
While praising the strides made in the past two matches in Johannesburg and Bloemfontein, Erasmus said he wants to see much more improvement from the Springboks.
According to Erasmus, the Springboks won’t get carried away by the two close-fought wins: “We made a lot of mistakes last week and this Saturday gives us the opportunity to rectify those errors and to continue to build on our team cohesion.”
The Springbok team against England in Cape Town (in order of name and surname, franchise/club, caps and points – tries, conversions, penalties, drop-goals):
15. Warrick Gelant (Vodacom Bulls, 4, 5 – 1t)
14. S’Busiso Nkosi (Cell C Sharks, 2, 10 – 2t)
13. Jesse Kriel (Vodacom Bulls, 31, 40 – 8 t)
12. Andre Esterhuizen (Cell C Sharks, 1, 0)
11. Aphiwe Dyantyi (Emirates Lions, 2, 5 – 1t)
10. Elton Jantjies (Emirates Lions, 25, 210 – 2t, 40c 40p)
9. Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks, England, 13, 5 – 1t)
8. Duane Vermeulen (Unattached, 41, 15 – 3t)
7. Pieter-Steph du Toit (DHL Stormers, 35, 20 – 4t)
6. Siya Kolisi (captain, DHL Stormers, 30, 20 – 4t)
5. Franco Mostert (Emirates Lions, 20, 5 – 1t)
4. RG Snyman (Vodacom Bulls, 2, 0)
3. Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers, 18, 0)
2. Chiliboy Ralepelle (Cell C Sharks, 24, 5 – 1t)
1. Tendai Mtawarira (Cell C Sharks, 100, 10 – 2t)
16. Schalk Brits (Saracens, England, 10, 5 – 1t)
17. Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers, 26, 5 – 1t)
18. Thomas du Toit (Cell C Sharks, 3, 0)
19. Jean-Luc du Preez (Cell C Sharks, 12, 10 – 2t)
20. Sikhumbuzo Notshe (DHL Stormers, 3, 0)
21. Embrose Papier (Vodacom Bulls, 1, 0)
22. Handré Pollard (Vodacom Bulls, 28, 246 – 3t, 42c, 46p, 3d)
23. Willie le Roux (Wasps, England, 43, 55 – 11t)
Stats and facts:
- The total number of Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is 348. There are 78 caps in the backline with 270 caps amongst the forwards. On the bench there are a further 126 caps.
- The average caps per player in the backline are 11, the forwards 34 while the players on the bench average 16. The average age of the starting 15 is 26.
- The first Test match at this historic venue took place 127 years ago, when Bill Maclagan’s British Isles team played their last Test match of their 1891 tour to South Africa.
- To date, the Springboks have played in 53 Test matches at DHL Newlands. Their record is as follows: P: 53; W: 35; L: 16; D: 2; PF: 1 038; PA: 662; TF: 134; TA: 70; Average score: 20-12; Win %: 66%.
- Saturday’s encounter will be the third between the countries in Cape Town. England’s first Test against the Boks in the Mother City was on 11 June 1994, the last match of their eight-game tour to South Africa.
- On 4 July 1998, England played a solitary Test match at DHL Newlands, after playing three Tests against Australia (1) and New Zealand (2) the previous four weeks, the first tour for England under Clive Woodward. The Springboks kept England scoreless with an 18-0 victory.
- With England failing to score a try in their previous two Tests at DHL Newlands, the Springbok record against England at this venue is: P: 2; W: 2; PF: 45; PA: 9; TF: 4; TA: 0.
- England’s best performance against South Africa was in 2002 at Twickenham, when they thumped the Springboks 53-3, and to date that it is still the second biggest defeat in Springbok history.
- South Africa’s biggest win against England was achieved at Bloemfontein in 2007 with a winning margin of 48 (58-10).
- Following last week’s Test in Bloemfontein, where the Boks clinched the Castle Lager Incoming Series, South Africa remain unbeaten in home series against England, stretching this run to six series triumphs.
- South Africa’s record against England in South Africa is: P: 15; W: 11; L: 3; D: 1; PF: 427; PA: 264; TF: 43; TA: 18; Average score: 28-18; Win %: 73%.
- The overall record of the Springboks against England is P: 40; W: 25; L: 13; D: 2; PF: 866; PA: 680; TF: 81; TA: 53; Average score: 22-17; Win%: 63%.
- The referee is Glen Jackson of New Zealand. He was born on 23 October 1975 in Feilding, New Zealand and made his Test debut as a referee on 10 November 2012 in a match between England and Fiji at Twickenham.
- To date, Jackson has refereed 26 Test matches of which six involved the Springboks. South Africa have won five and one was drawn.
- The Assistant Referees are Romain Poite of France and Ben O’Keeffe of New Zealand and the TMO is Simon McDowell of Ireland.