The Springbok team to face New Zealand for the 90th time shows eight changes to the match-23 to that which did duty against Australia for the second match in the condensed Castle Lager Rugby Championship at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday.
Heinrich Brüssow will make his first start for the Springboks since the 2011 Rugby World Cup, while impressive DHL Stormers prop Vincent Koch has been included on the bench for what could be his Test debut for South Africa.
Of the eight changes, three are to the pack and five are on the bench. The backline is unchanged. Schalk Burger will captain the team from No.8.
Francois Louw will start in the number seven jersey for the injured Marcell Coetzee in a positional change, with Brüssow assuming the openside role. The only other change to the starting line-up is at lock, where Lood de Jager takes over from Victor Matfield.
On the bench, Koch will be joined by new DHL Stormers signing Cornal Hendricks, Trevor Nyakane, Flip van der Merwe and Warren Whiteley, who could make his first Test appearance in South Africa, in front of his home crowd in Johannesburg.
“Injuries have forced our hand a bit, but we’ve stuck with our planned rotational policy on the bench and it will be great to see what Heinrich, Vincent and Flip can do,” said Meyer.
“The breakdown battle will again be huge and it will be good to see Heinrich and Francois play together. They are versatile players and I am convinced they will combine perfectly.
“Heinrich has been great this season before he got injured and played his way into contention. As with other players returning from injury in Vodacom Super Rugby, he deserves an opportunity. We decided it was better to start with him and use Warren as an impact player later in the match.
“It’s also great to see Flip back in the fold. We had a look at Pieter-Steph du Toit but he is not yet 100% match-ready, and Franco Mostert was also discussed but in the end we decided to go with Flip as he will add valuable experience to our bench.
“We planned to bring Trevor, Warren and Cornal back for this match. Trevor and Warren have been playing great rugby this season and Cornal is a superb finisher, as he’s shown so often last year.”
Meyer said that the Springboks faced a huge challenge on Saturday as they continue to build towards the Rugby World Cup against a fired-up Kiwi side.
“This will be a massive Test – every match against the All Blacks is,” said Meyer.
“We played some great rugby last weekend, but this week we have to put in an 80-minute effort. We have to be especially focused in the last 10 minutes, because New Zealand always finish strongly. They travelled here with us so that negates any advantage we could’ve had at the end of the match.
“The challenge will also be to make a step up in vital areas of the game and get back on the winning track. By not making too many changes this week, we’re giving some combinations the opportunity to settle a bit more. Our youngsters will have to put up their hands on Saturday – I would not have selected them if I didn’t believe they can do the job.”
The Springbok team to face New Zealand in Johannesburg is as follows:
15. Willie le Roux (Toyota Cheetahs) – 26 caps
14. JP Pietersen (Cell C Sharks) – 60
13. Jesse Kriel (Vodacom Bulls) – 1
12. Damian de Allende (DHL Stormers) – 4
11. Bryan Habana (Toulon) – 107
10. Handré Pollard (Vodacom Bulls) – 10
9. Ruan Pienaar (Ulster – vice-captain) – 81
8. Schalk Burger (DHL Stormers – captain) – 76
7. Francois Louw (Bath) – 35
6. Heinrich Brüssow (Toyota Cheetahs) – 20
5. Lood de Jager (Toyota Cheetahs) – 10
4. Eben Etzebeth (DHL Stormers) – 34
3. Jannie du Plessis (Cell C Sharks) – 63
2. Bismarck du Plessis (Cell C Sharks) – 71
1. Tendai Mtawarira (Cell C Sharks) – 65
16. Adriaan Strauss (Vodacom Bulls) – 45
17. Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls) – 12
18. Vincent Koch (DHL Stormers) – Uncapped
19. Flip van der Merwe (Vodacom Bulls) – 35
20. Warren Whiteley (Emirates Lions – 2
21. Cobus Reinach (Cell C Sharks) – 7
22. Pat Lambie (Cell C Sharks) – 41
23. Cornal Hendricks (Toyota Cheetahs) – 11
BOK STATS AND FACTS:
– The Springbok starting team boasts a total of 663 Test caps (289 in the backline and 374 in the forwards), while there are a further 153 caps worth of experience on the bench.
– South Africa and New Zealand have played each other 89 times since 1921, with the Springboks winning 35, losing 51 and three were drawn. The Springboks have scored 1,392 points and 137 tries and conceded 1,718 points and 177 tries for an average score of 16-19.
– South Africa and New Zealand last met on October 4, 2015 at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg. The Springboks beat New Zealand by 27-25 thanks to a late 55 metre penalty from the boot of replacement flyhalf Patrick Lambie.
– Schalk Burger will become South Africa’s 55th Springbok captain in history.
– Bryan Habana will extend his own record as the most-capped Springbok wing, with 106 caps in this position. If he scores a try he will extend his own record of 57 Test tries for South Africa as well as most Test tries against New Zealand (seven) and the Castle Lager Rugby Championship record of 18 tries.
– If he scores a try, Bismarck du Plessis will extend his record of nine Test tries for South Africa as a hooker. He will also extend his SA record of 40 Tests (22 in the starting line-up) with his brother Jannie and 17 Tests with Jannie and Tendai Mtawarira as the starting front row pairing for SA.
– If he goes on, Vincent Koch will become Springbok No.868 in history.
– It will be Heyneke Meyer’s 39th Test in charge of the Springboks since he took over in 2012. Of the previous 38 Tests South Africa have won 26, lost ten and drew twice. He is third now on the all-time list with only Peter de Villiers (48) and Jake White (54) in front of him.
– The referee is Jerome Garces of France. It will be his fifth Test involving South Africa. Of the previous four South Africa have won three and lost one. His last appearance was in November 2014 against Italy in Padova when the Boks won 22-6.