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JOHANNESBURG — Two England-based Springboks make their return to the national team. As expected Bath flanker Francois Louw returns after missing the Wallabies Test due to club commitments, while Saracens prop Vincent Koch is on the bench after a break of two years from international rugby. Koch last played in the green and gold in the disastrous Test against Italy in Firenze in November 2016, when Italy won 20-18 for their first-ever victory over South Africa. Koch might have thought that was a miserable way to end his international career because he then made the move to England. With 9 Test caps to his name, he was far off the 30 Tests required before an overseas-based player could be considered for a national call-up. The daft rule has been scrapped and Koch makes his welcome return. Rassie Erasmus has made an interesting decision in picking Louw at 8thman. This is out of position for Louw and it’s only the third time he starts a Test at number 8. The 61-Test veteran was briefly at the back of the scrum in the defeat against Australia in Brisbane last month, substituting for the injured Warren Whiteley in the 61st minute. – David O’Sullivan
From SA Rugby
Damian de Allende, Francois Louw and Steven Kitshoff are back in the Springbok starting line-up for Saturday’s Castle Lager Rugby Championship match against the All Blacks at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, where Willie le Roux will play in his 50th Test for South Africa.
De Allende has shrugged off his shoulder injury that forced him to miss last weekend’s win over the Wallabies in Port Elizabeth and takes over the No 12 jersey from Andre Esterhuizen. Louw is back in the frame having returned from English club commitments and he will start at No 8, while Sikhumbuzo Notshe will play off the bench.
Kitshoff is part of the starting front row in a straight rotational swop with the experienced Tendai Mtawarira, who will provide impact off the bench. Vincent Koch is also set to play an impact role after he was named amongst the replacement forwards, in place of Wilco Louw.
The rest of the team that defeated Australia last weekend in Port Elizabeth was kept unchanged.
“Damian has trained very well and took full contact this week, so he is ready,” said Rassie Erasmus, Director of Rugby.
“Notshe played well against the Wallabies last weekend and will offer us something different when he goes on, but Flo (Louw) has a lot of experience and is good on the ground.”
Erasmus said he is looking forward to seeing Koch get another run in the Springbok jersey.
“Vincent has learnt a lot from playing in Northern Hemisphere conditions and I am sure he is very keen to pull on that Green and Gold jersey again. He has a burning desire to play for the Springboks and I am delighted for him as we continue to build our squad depth.”
I’d love to see our @Springboks supporters stand up as one man next week at Loftus when we play the @AllBlacks and face up to the Hakka. Arms around each other and dead silence while they do it. 20 Boks on the field but 40,000 would be so intimidating. @stranners @MattP555
— Allan Donald (@AllanDonald33) September 29, 2018
Erasmus congratulated Le Roux for reaching the special milestone of 50 Test caps: “Willie has grown immensely since making his debut five years ago and his calm influence at the back, as well as his experience, will be vital on Saturday. He deserves this accolade.”
SA Rugby’s Director of Rugby added that while his team has some momentum going into the big game, they will be looking to improve in all areas against a quality All Blacks team.
“They will test us in every department,” said Erasmus.
“The All Blacks usually hit hard back after a loss so we have to be mentally and physically ready for a massive contest. We will have to front up in defence and be clinical when we creating chances because the All Blacks punish you for errors and missed opportunities.
“The Springboks versus All Blacks at a packed Loftus, I think it’s going to be a special occasion.”
The Springbok team to face the All Blacks in Pretoria (in order of position, name and surname, club or provincial team, number of caps and Test points):
15. Willie le Roux (Wasps, England), 49, 60 – 12t
14. Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse, France), 3, 5 – 1t
13. Jesse Kriel (Vodacom Bulls), 35, 45 – 9t
12. Damian de Allende (DHL Stormers), 32, 15 – 3t
11. Aphiwe Dyantyi (Emirates Lions), 8, 30 – 6t
10. Handré Pollard (Vodacom Bulls), 34, 278 – 3t, 52c, 50p, 3d
9. Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks, England), 19, 15 – 3t
8. Francois Louw (Bath, England), 61, 45 – 9t
7. Pieter-Steph du Toit (DHL Stormers), 41, 20 – 4t
6. Siya Kolisi (captain, DHL Stormers), 36, 25 – 5t
5. Franco Mostert (Emirates Lions), 25, 5 – 1t
4. Eben Etzebeth (DHL Stormers), 72, 15 – 3t
3. Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers), 24, 0
2. Malcolm Marx (Emirates Lions), 19, 20, – 4t
1. Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers), 32, 5 – 1t
16. Bongi Mbonambi (DHL Stormers), 21, 10 – 2t
17. Tendai Mtawarira (DHL Stormers), 106, 10 – 2t
18. Vincent Koch (Saracens, England), 9, 0
19. RG Snyman (Vodacom Bulls), 7, 0
20. Sikhumbuzo Notshe (DHL Stormers), 5, 0
21. Embrose Papier (Vodacom Bulls), 3, 0
22. Elton Jantjies (Emirates Lions), 28, 223 – 2t, 42c, 43p
23. Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers), 2, 0
Stats and facts:
- The total test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is 490. There are 180 caps in the backline with 310 caps amongst the forwards. On the bench there are a further 181 caps.
- The average caps per player in the backline are 26, the forwards 39 while the players on the bench average 23. The average age of the starting 15 is 26.
- Tendai Mtawarira is the most experienced Springboks against New Zealand with 17 Test matches. The following players have not played against the All Blacks before: Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Embrose Papier and Damian Willemse.
Approaching milestones and records:
- Willie le Roux will play in his 50th Test match for South Africa.
- South Africa could score their 150th try against New Zealand if they score two tries in this Test match, and New Zealand need 21 points to reach 2,000 points in Test matches against South Africa.
- Eben Etzebeth will play in his record 38th consecutive Castle Lager Rugby Championship Test match.
- The ground on which Loftus Versfeld is situated today was established in 1906 and was then known as the Eastern Sports Ground. The first International rugby match at this venue was played on 24 July, 1928 when the visiting All Blacks played against Pretoria. The first Test match at Loftus Versfeld was against the 1955 British & Irish Lions team, captained by Robin Thompson of Ireland.
- Saturday’s Test match against New Zealand will be the 36th Test match at Loftus. The stadium has a seating capacity of 49,861.
Record against New Zealand:
- South Africa’s Test match record at Loftus Versfeld – P: 35; W: 27; L: 8; PF: 1 140; PA: 680; TF: 135; TA: 68; Average score: 33-19; Win%: 77%.
- Notwithstanding the good overall Springbok record at this ground, New Zealand’s record against South Africa at Loftus Versfeld is impressive. The All Blacks have played five Test matches, winning four and losing only one, in 1970.
- The Springbok Test record at Loftus against New Zealand – P: 5; W: 1; L: 4; PF: 103; PA: 170; TF: 11; TA: 18; Average score: 21-34; Win%: 20%.
- Top Springbok scorers at this stadium are: Percy Montgomery, 105 (10 Tests), Morné Steyn, 62 (5 Tests) and Naas Botha, 56 (4 Tests).
- Match records are held by Percy Montgomery (31 points, 9 conversions), Danie Gerber, Pieter Rossouw and Bryan Habana (3 tries), Gerald Bosch and Braam van Straaten (6 penalty goals) and Morné Steyn (2 drop goals).
- The most points scored by South Africa against New Zealand at Loftus were 26 on two occasions (1996 and 2006), while New Zealand racked up 52 points in 2003.
- South Africa’s overall record in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship against New Zealand is: P: 48; W: 13; L: 35; PF: 917; PA: 1 392; TF: 85; TA: 148; Average score: 19-29. Win%: 27%.
- South Africa’s overall record against New Zealand is: P: 96; W: 36; L: 57; D: 3; PF: 1,518; PA: 1,979; TF: 148; TA: 218; Average score: 16-21. Win%: 38%.
- South Africa’s biggest win against New Zealand was 90 years ago in 1928 in Durban when the Springboks won 17-0.
- The referee is Angus Gardner of Australia. Angus was born in Sydney, Australia on 24 August, 1984. His first Test match was in November, 2011 in a match between Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. To date, Gardner has refereed in 16 Test matches with four Tests matches involving South Africa. The Springboks have lost two and won two with him in charge.
- The two assistant referees are Jérôme Garcès of France and Matt Carley of England, while Graham Hughes of England will be the TMO.