Former Springbok lock Bakkies Botha will captain the World XV against the Springboks at DHL Newlands this Saturday (kick-off 17h00).
The veteran lock leads an experienced side containing former Springboks JJ Engelbrecht (Blue Bulls) and Gurthrö Steenkamp (Toulouse), with Flip van der Merwe (Blue Bulls) among the replacements.
2015 DHL Newlands Season Tickets are valid for Saturday’s match, whilst there are still public tickets available for purchase – either online (wprugby.computicket.com) or from Shoprite/Checkers stores and Computicket outlets nationwide and the DHL Newlands Box Office, which is open for the remainder of this week and on matchday.
World XV head coach Robbie Deans described Botha, 35, as the “natural choice” to take charge as the invitation side prepare to test Heyneke Meyer’s men as they start their build-up to the World Cup.
“For a long time Bakkies has been a huge presence in the game here so it’ll be a real occasion when he leads the World XV out against his country,” said Deans.
“He’s really enjoyed this week, mixing with those he’s played against and he’s been a big contributor in helping the group come together. He was leading before he was appointed leader.”
The World XV have a battle-hardened pack with Botha (85 caps), lining up with New Zealand’s Ali Williams (77) in the second row, whilst props Steenkamp (53) and Carl Hayman (45) also bring significant experience.
There are eight of Toulon’s treble-winning European champions in the starting side – including two brothers in fullback Delon Armitage and flanker Steffon Armitage, the 2014 European Player of the Year.
Deans added: “This is an important game for South Africa. They’ve got a Rugby Championship game next weekend so they’ll be looking for a good hit-out and we’ll provide that for them. We want to be competitive in the first instance so we can assist them in their build-up.
“There’s a few locals in the group and it’ll be a unique experience for them but there’s also a lot of blokes who have played Test rugby, who may not get the chance to play at DHL Newlands again so it’s going to be special for many reasons.
“We’ve also got some young blokes who have yet to taste Test rugby but who will do in the future and it’s a great occasion for them. If it’s not a first Test cap, it’s as close as you can get.”
The World XV team to face the Springboks in Cape Town is as follows:
15. Delon Armitage (Toulon & England)
14. Lachlan Turner (Queensland Reds & Australia)
13. JJ Engelbrecht (Blue Bulls & South Africa)
12. Maxime Mermoz (Toulon & France)
11. David Smith (Toulon)
10. Mike Harris (Queensland Reds & Australia)
9. Luke Burgess (Melbourne Rebels & Australia)
8. Luke Whitelock (Crusaders & New Zealand)
7. Steffon Armitage (Toulon & England)
6. Jordan Taufua (Crusaders)
5. Bakkies Botha (Toulon & South Africa – captain)
4. Ali Williams (Toulon & New Zealand)
3. Carl Hayman (Toulon & New Zealand)
2. Craig Burden (Toulon)
1. Gurthro Steenkamp (Toulouse & South Africa)
16. David Roumieu (Bayonne)
17. Alexandre Menini (Toulon & France)
18. Petrus du Plessis (Saracens)
19. Flip Van der Merwe (Blue Bulls & South Africa)
20. Louis-Benoit Madaule (Bordeaux-Begles)
21. Maxime Machenaud (Racing Metro & France)
22. Andrew Horrell (Chiefs)
23. Rudi Wulf (Toulon & New Zealand)
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Jason Jaftha (South Africa)
TMO: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)