Fourie du Preez will become the Springboks’ 56th Test captain – with Schalk Burger serving as his deputy – when he leads South Africa out in a must-win encounter in Pool B of the Rugby World Cup against Scotland at St James’ Park in Newcastle on Saturday.
Du Preez made a massive impact upon his return against the match against Samoa last weekend and has been entrusted with the captaincy in the absence of the injured Jean de Villiers and Victor Matfield, who have both been ruled out due to injury.
DHL Stormers ace Schalk Burger – who led the Springboks earlier this year – will support Du Preez as the Boks’ new vice-captain.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer made only three changes to the starting line-up for Saturday’s match – two of them injury-enforced.
Jesse Kriel will link up again with Damian De Allende in the midfield, in the place of De Villiers, while Lood de Jager takes over from Matfield at lock.
The third change is a rotational switch at hooker, where Bismarck du Plessis returns in the place of Adriaan Strauss, who will move to the bench. New replacements are Pieter-Steph du Toit, Willem Alberts and Jan Serfontein, who provides cover as both centres picked up injuries last week.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said that losing two experienced captains in one week had been a severe blow but that the squad included a number of highly capable deputies.
“Fourie has been one of the best scrumhalves in world rugby for a long time, but he also understands the game better than most players and is a tactical genius,” said Meyer. “He will know exactly what is needed on Saturday when we continue our fight to keep our World Cup dream alive.
“Schalk stood in on the last occasion that Jean and Victor were both absent earlier this season before Fourie had returned to fitness. They are both great leaders who go about their work in contrasting ways and I think they will work extremely well in tandem.
“They are hugely experienced and they know what it will take to win this very important match against a great Scottish side.”
Meyer said his team would have to build on their victory over Samoa on Saturday in order to stay in the hunt for a play-off spot at the Rugby World Cup.
“The performance against Samoa was much better, but Scotland have been impressive in their victories over Japan and the USA.
“We know in which areas we have to improve and we will have to fire at 100% on Saturday against a motivated Scotland side. The injuries have not been ideal, but we can’t do anything about that and the players selected will have to perform once again this weekend.”
Matfield was the only player not considered this week due to injury.
The Springbok team to face Scotland in Newcastle is as follows:
15. Willie le Roux (Toyota FS Cheetahs) – 29 caps
14. JP Pietersen (Cell C Sharks) – 62
13. Jesse Kriel (Vodacom Bulls) – 6
12. Damian de Allende (DHL Stormers) – 8
11. Bryan Habana (Toulon) – 112
10. Handré Pollard (Vodacom Bulls) – 15
9. Fourie du Preez (Suntory – captain) – 72
8. Duane Vermeulen (DHL Stormers) – 30
7. Schalk Burger (DHL Stormers – vice-captain) – 81
6. Francois Louw (Bath) – 38
5. Lood de Jager (Toyota Cheetahs) – 14
4. Eben Etzebeth (DHL Stormers) – 39
3. Jannie du Plessis (Cell C Sharks) – 66
2. Bismarck du Plessis (Cell C Sharks) – 74
1. Tendai Mtawarira (Cell C Sharks) – 70
16. Adriaan Strauss (Vodacom Bulls) – 50
17. Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls) – 18
18. Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers) – 7
19. Pieter-Steph du Toit (Cell C Sharks) – 5
20. Willem Alberts (Cell C Sharks) – 33
21. Ruan Pienaar (Ulster) – 86
22. Pat Lambie (Cell C Sharks) – 46
23. Jan Serfontein (Vodacom Bulls) – 21
STATS AND FACTS:
– The first Test match between South Africa and Scotland took place in Glasgow in November 1906. The score in that match was 6-0 in favour of Scotland. Since that day at Hampden Park, 24 Test matches were played against Scotland with South Africa victorious in 20. The four matches won by Scotland were all played at Murrayfield in Edinburgh. Saturday’s Test will be the first time that the two teams will meet at a neutral venue.
– The Springbok record against Scotland is: P: 25; W: 20; L: 5; PF: 652; PA: 270. Win%: 80%.
– The most points scored in a match by the Springboks were 68 when they achieved their biggest winning margin against Scotland, winning 68-10 at Murrayfield in 1997. Ten tries were scored by the Springboks on that occasion.
– In RWC tournaments, the two teams have met just once before. In 1999 the Springboks’ first pool match was against Scotland at Murrayfield which the Springboks won 46-29.
– The total Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is 716. There are 304 caps in the backline with 412 caps amongst the forwards. On the bench there are a further 266 caps.
– Jan Serfontein could make his RWC debut from the bench.
– Bryan Habana will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok wing, with 111 caps in this position. He is the most experienced Springbok backline player with 112 caps and only Victor Matfield (125) has played in more Test matches for South Africa.
– If he scores a try he will extend his own record of 60 Test tries for South Africa. Bryan also holds the Springbok record for most career tries (11) in RWC tournaments. Jonah Lomu of New Zealand is the RWC record holder with 15 career tries. Bryan also needs two tries to equal the world record for most Test tries as a wing. The current world record holder is Daisuke Ohata from Japan with 62 tries in the wing position and he needs one try to equal Joost van der Westhuizen’s career record of four tries against Scotland.
– JP Pietersen scored a hat trick of tries in the match against Samoa which elevated him to third on the list of tries in RWC with seven career tries. Jaque Fourie (9) is second with Habana (11) in first place.
– Ruan Pienaar is co-holder of the RWC record for most conversions (6) in a Test match. Should he be used from the bench he will equal Ollie le Roux’s record (43) for the most-capped Bok substitute.
– Schalk Burger will play in his 75th Test as a flank – South Africa’s most-capped Springbok flank.
– Saturday’s Test will be Burger’s 16th RWC Test to join Victor Matfield and Os du Randt as second most-capped Springboks in RWC. John Smit played in 17 RWC Tests. He is also the Springbok record holder for most tries as a flank (13) as well as a forward (15).
– Jannie du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira will play in their 39th Test as props in the starting line-up.
– Bismarck du Plessis is the Springbok record holder for most tries (10) in Tests as a hooker.
– The front row of Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck and Tendai Mtawarira will appear in their record 20th Test starting line-up. Jannie and Bismarck will play their 46th Test match together.
– The referee is Nigel Owens of Wales. It will be his 13th Test involving South Africa. Of the previous 12 South Africa have won seven and lost five. His last appearance in which South Africa played was earlier this year in Brisbane when South Africa lost 20-24 against Australia.
– The venue is St James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, home to Newcastle United Football Club since 1892. It has a capacity of just more than 52,400 seats. It is the second biggest sports ground in England outside of London. Apart from football-related uses the stadium is also used for concerts, international rugby league and rugby union matches.