JOHANNESBURG — Even if Handré Pollard hadn’t been battling with the yips and his kicking game was sublime, it’s unlikely he would have been in the squad for Saturday’s Rugby Championship Test match against Australia in Brisbane. The All Blacks are destined to win the title again, and coach Rassie Erasmus can justifiably afford to experiment and shuffle his squad as he looks for the successful combinations to take to next year’s World Cup in Japan. Elton Jantjies teams up with former Lions teammate Faf de Klerk in another bid to show he can perform in the Bok jersey, with a new centre pairing on his outside in Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel. Steven Kitshoff and Bongi Mbonambi, who usually start off the bench, come into the starting lineup, giving the Boks an incredibly potent force in Malcolm Marx and Beast Mtawarira to make an impact later in the game. The newcomer Cheslin Kolbe will surely get his first cap after mercurial performances this past season for Toulouse. The coaching staff altered the Boks’ training sessions to later in the afternoon so that the players are at their best for the evening kickoff. Experimentation is everywhere in the Bok camp. – David O’Sullivan
From SA Rugby
The Springboks will face the Wallabies on Saturday in Brisbane with a new-look front row, a reshuffled loose trio as well as a different midfield combination following the announcement of the South African match 23 on Thursday.
Rassie Erasmus, SA Rugby’s Director of Rugby, also included uncapped outside back Cheslin Kolbe on the bench, with the former Blitzbok and Junior Springbok speedster set to make his full Test debut should he join the action as a replacement.
Steven Kitshoff and Bongi Mbonambi will form a new-look front row next to Frans Malherbe, while Tendai Mtawarira and Malcolm Marx are set to play off the bench.
Siya Kolisi (captain) returns to the No 6 jersey after playing on the opposite side of the scrum against the Pumas in Durban and Mendoza. Pieter-Steph du Toit will start in the No 7 jersey and Warren Whiteley completes the loose trio at No 8.
Elton Jantjies swaps places at flyhalf with Handré Pollard, who is now amongst the replacements, with Faf de Klerk again performing the scrumhalf duties.
Erasmus also rotated his midfield, which means a first start this year for Damian de Allende, who will resume his centre partnership with Jesse Kriel. Aphiwe Dyantyi and Makazole Mapimpi (wings) and the experienced Willie le Roux completes the rest of the South African backline.
“We are looking for a good response on Saturday against the Wallabies and I am sure that this side will be up to the task,” said Erasmus.
According to the Bok mentor, both sides will be desperate to succeed as a result of their respective results in the previous round of matches.
“Australia, playing at home, will no doubt be highly motivated to bounce back, so we have to be ready for a huge contest,” said Erasmus.
“We have worked hard to rectify our errors of last week and we know the set piece and breakdown battles are going to especially be important. The Wallabies are known for their abilities at the breakdown and we will have to be accurate and disciplined in those areas.”
The Springbok team to play Australia in Brisbane (in order of name, franchise / club, number of caps and Test points):
15. Willie le Roux (Wasps, England), 46, 55 – 11t
14. Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks) 3, 15 – 3t
13. Jesse Kriel (Vodacom Blue Bulls), 32, 45 – 9t
12. Damian de Allende (DHL Western Province), 30, 15 – 3t
11. Aphiwe Dyantyi (Xerox Golden Lions), 5, 15 – 3t
10. Elton Jantjies (Xerox Golden Lions), 26, 215 – 2t, 41c, 41p
9. Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks, England), 16, 10 – 2t
8. Warren Whiteley (Xerox Golden Lions), 19, 15 – 3t
7. Pieter-Steph du Toit (DHL Western Province), 38, 20 – 4t
6. Siya Kolisi (captain, DHL Western Province), 33, 25 – 5t
5. Franco Mostert (Xerox Golden Lions), 22, 5 – 1t
4. Eben Etzebeth (DHL Western Province), 69, 15 – 3t
3. Frans Malherbe (DHL Western Province), 21, 0
2. Bongi Mbonambi (DHL Western Province), 18, 5 – 1t
1. Steven Kitshoff (DHL Western Province), 29, 5 – 1t
16. Malcolm Marx (Xerox Golden Lions), 16, 15 – 3t
17. Tendai Mtawarira (Cell C Sharks), 103, 10 – 2t
18. Wilco Louw (DHL Western Province), 8, 0
19. RG Snyman (Vodacom Blue Bulls), 4, 0
20. Francois Louw (Bath, England), 59, 45 – 9t
21. Embrose Papier (Vodacom Blue Bulls), 3, 0
22. Handré Pollard (Vodacom Blue Bulls), 31, 254 – 3t, 46c, 46p, 3d
23. Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse, France), 0, 0
Stats and facts:
- Cheslin Kolbe will become Springbok #911 should he take the field as a substitute.
- There are 158 caps in the backline with 249 caps amongst the forwards. On the bench there are a further 224 caps.
- The average caps per player in the backline are 23, the forwards 31 while the players on the bench average 28. The average age of the starting 15 is 27.
Milestones and records:
- Eben Etzebeth will play in his record 35th consecutive Castle Lager Rugby Championship Test match.
- Handré Pollard needs 17 points during the Castle Lager Rugby Championship to reach 100 points in the competition.
- Eben Etzebeth will play in his 70th Test match, while Steven Kitshoff will play in his 30th and Warren Whiteley in his 20th.
- It will be Francois Louw’s 60th Test match should he be used as a substitute.
- Suncorp Stadium, previously known as Brisbane Stadium and Lang Park, was built in the 1910s. In 1965 South Africa played their first Test at Lang Park against Australia. That match was won by Australia 12-8. Works commenced in 2001 on a new stadium at this ground and was completed in 2003. The stadium was renamed Suncorp Stadium, following a naming rights sponsorship deal.
- Saturday’s Test match against Australia will be the ninth Castle Lager Rugby Championship Test match at the Suncorp Stadium for the Springboks – the venue of South Africa’s worst-ever defeat against the Wallabies, and their biggest victory over the men in gold in Australia. On 15 July 2006, the Boks failed to score a point in a 49-0 defeat, which is also the third highest losing margin in Springbok history. On 7 September 2013, the Boks beat Australia by 38-12, with the home team failing to score a try in the Test.
- The Springboks’ Castle Lager Rugby Championship record at this stadium: P: 9; W: 1; L: 8; PF: 129; PA: 252; TF: 13; TA: 25; Average score: 14-28; Win%: 11%. South Africa’s only win at this stadium was 38-12 in 2013.
- However, South Africa’s overall record in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship against Australia is almost even: P: 47; W: 22; L: 22; D: 3; PF: 1,049; PA: 1,034; TF: 99; TA: 102; Average score: 22-22. Win%: 47%.
- South Africa’s overall record against Australia: P: 85; W: 46; L: 36; D: 3; PF: 1,657; PA: 1,498; TF: 193; TA: 153; Average score: 19-18. Win%: 54%.
- The referee is Glen Jackson of New Zealand. He was born on 23 October 1975 in Feilding in New Zealand. He made his Test debut as a referee on 10 November 2012 at Twickenham, in a Test between England and Fiji.
- To date, Jackson has refereed 27 Test matches of which seven involved the Springboks. South Africa won five, drew one while the last Test against England at DHL Newlands was lost. The assistant referees are John Lacey of Ireland and Paul Williams of New Zealand. The TMO will be Glenn Newman of New Zealand.