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Rugby | Springboks

Rassie Erasmus © Getty Images

Rassie makes just two changes for England



Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus kept close to his winning squad, making only two changes to the starting line-up to face England in the second test of the Castle Lager Incoming Tours series in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

Frans Malherbe comes in at tighthead, a relative gamble as he had not had much game time this season after a neck injury, while Pieter-Steph du Toit – who captained the team against Wales – returns to the side at blindside flank, replacing Jean-Luc du Preez who drops to the bench.

Jesse Kriel will also be on the bench to cover the outside backs, with Rassie Erasmus not going for a recognised flyhalf on the bench. Willie le Roux will cover flyhalf in the event of an injury while Faf de Klerk is the other back-up.

Erasmus said he felt that Wilco Louw, who had started both previous tests, needed a break.

“A few months back before his injury Frans was starting tighthead, competing with a guy like Coenie (Oosthuizen). And Wilco has just been playing every single minute so I guess he is pretty punch drunk.

“We will give him a week’s rest and them make an assessment again. Frans is back to full fitness now. He has played one or two SuperSport Challenge games and one off the bench for the Stormers, so we will see how long he can last on Saturday.”

While Malherbe is back and fit from injury, Erasmus did admit he wouldn’t be able to last 80 minutes on the park.

“He won’t last 80 minutes at test level, that I can promise you. But he had a better build-up than a guy like Bongi.

“He came through 40 minutes, then 60 minutes and then 40 minutes again. I guess this won’t be a 50-60 minutes for him, this will be a 40 minutes for him but I am confident that he will be able to handle that.

“I think the scrumming will be more of a challenge with the combinations. Hopefully that will settle quickly, but in terms of match fitness I don’t think he will last more than 40.”

Reserve prop Thomas du Toit will have a major part in the test as well, especially considering Malherbe’s fitness, but Erasmus is looking forward to his performance.

“We are trying to build Thomas into a world-class tighthead. With the help of the Sharks, they were willing to stick through a tough time with him when they were struggling in the beginning.

“I guess from my view, and I might not be right, but the next step for him is to build into a test tighthead where he has to take all of that pressure from the beginning of the game. He did it well last week so hopefully he can do the same this week.”

DU TOIT'S VERSATILITY A MAJOR ASSET

Erasmus said that Du Toit was an obvious choice given what he brings to the side.

“Pieter-Steph is one of those guys who will always be close to the starting line-up and getting a guy like him back now with a bit of captaincy experience as the Springbok captain will help this young team and Jean-Luc moving to the bench.

“With Jesse we just feel that when the game opened up last week we needed some speed out there and Jesse covers obviously centre and the outside backs as well. So that is the basic reasoning.”

Erasmus said the last time Du Toit played England, where he was caught on defence at Twickenham by Ben Youngs, was not a concern as the flanker was a much better player now.

“We know Ben Youngs, we all know he is that sort of guy. If you take that they get the right shoulder, then he will be pretty tough to stop no matter who you are. Pieter-Steph has grown since 2016, I can’t remember that specific one.

“But overall our defence has to be up from where it was last weekend, we can't defend like that. It will be a challenge, not just on his side but on Siya’s side as well, but overall he is a threat and we need to contain him.”

Despite criticism over where he should play, Erasmus thinks Du Toit’s versatility is a major asset for the team.

“I think we are lucky to have a guy like that. I think people always want to categorise a guy as something specific, I think it is wonderful. A guy in the Andre Venter mould who can cover you there and is solid enough in both positions.

“I think as we go forward we will use him in both positions and I don’t think we’re necessarily settling in at that blindside flanker. I think we will use him in this game and might move him to lock during the game because we have two loose forwards on the bench. I’m not sure when we go to the World Cup, but again his leadership is important.

“But I think if you ask a guy after one test match as captain, you already think differently to the other senior players but at this stage I think he is going to cover both for us.”

The Springbok team to face England in Bloemfontein (in order of name and surname, franchise/club, caps and points):

15. Willie le Roux (Wasps, England, 42, 55 - 11t)

14. S’busiso Nkosi (Cell C Sharks, 1, 10 - 2t)

13. Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks, 2, 0)

12. Damian de Allende (DHL Stormers, 29, 15 - 3t)

11. Aphiwe Dyantyi (Emirates Lions, 1, 5 - 1t)

10. Handré Pollard (Vodacom Bulls, 27, 235 - 3t, 41c, 43p, 3d)

9. Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks, England, 12, 5 -1t)

8. Duane Vermeulen (Unattached, 40, 10 - 2t)

7. Pieter-Steph du Toit (DHL Stormers, 34, 20 - 4t)

6. Siya Kolisi (DHL Stormers, 29, 20 - 4t) - captain

5. Franco Mostert (Emirates Lions, 19, 5 - 1t)

4. RG Snyman (Vodacom Bulls, 1, 0)

3. Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers, 17, 0)

2. Bongi Mbonambi (DHL Stormers, 15, 5 - 1t)

1. Tendai Mtawarira (Cell C Sharks, 99, 10 - 2t)

REPLACEMENTS:

16. Akker van der Merwe (Cell C Sharks, 2, 0)

17. Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers, 25, 5 - 1t)

18. Thomas du Toit (Cell C Sharks, 2, 0)

19. Jean-Luc du Preez (Cell C Sharks, 11, 10 - 2t)

20. Sikhumbuzo Notshe (DHL Stormers, 2, 0)

21. Ivan van Zyl (Vodacom Bulls, 2, 0)

22. Jesse Kriel (Vodacom Bulls, 30, 40 - 8t)

23. Warrick Gelant (Vodacom Bulls, 3, 5 – 1t)

STATS AND FACTS:

• It will be a special day for Tendai Mtawarira, who will play in his 100th test match for South Africa, becoming the first Springbok prop forward to do so. He joins an elite group of only seven international prop forwards who have played in 100 or more test matches – Gethin Jenkins and Adam Jones (both Wales, British & Irish Lions), Jason Leonard (England, British & Irish Lions), John Hayes (Ireland, British & Irish Lions), Martin Castrogiovanni and Andrea Lo Cicero (both Italy) and Tony Woodcock (New Zealand).

• Only five other players have reached 100 test caps for the Springboks – they are Percy Montgomery (in 2008), John Smit, Victor Matfield (both in 2010), Bryan Habana and Jean de Villiers (both in 2014).

• The number of caps in the Springbok starting line-up are 368, with 114 caps in the backline and 254 among the forwards, while on the bench the number is 77.

• The average caps per player in the backline is 16, the forwards 32 while the players on the bench average 10. The average age of the starting 15 is 26.

• This will be the third test between South Africa and England in Bloemfontein. In June 2000, England, under the captaincy of Martin Johnson, undertook a five-match tour to South Africa. Two test matches were played of which the first was won by the Springboks in Pretoria. The second international, which was the first test for England at the Free State Stadium (as it was called back then) in Bloemfontein, was won 27-22 by England.

• On that day, all 27 points came from the boot of Jonny Wilkinson, with eight penalty goals (a record for any player against South Africa) and a drop goal. The 27 points is a joint record for any opponent against South Africa. The other two players who achieved this are Rob Andrew of England and Gerald Merceron of France.

• Almost seven years later, on 26 May 2007, South Africa scored their biggest win (58-10) against the English in Bloemfontein. The score of 58 and the winning margin of 48 are still Springbok records against England.

• England’s best performance against South Africa was in 2002 at Twickenham, when they defeated the Springboks with a score of 53-3, the second biggest defeat for the Springboks in history.

• South Africa are undefeated in five series against England.

• South Africa’s record against England in South Africa is : Played 14; Won 10; Lost 3; Drawn 1; Points for 404; Points against 252; Tries for 41; Tries against 16; Average score 29-18.

• The overall record of the Springboks against England is Played 39; Won 24; Lost 13; Drawn 2; Points for 843; Points against 668; Tries for 79; Tries against 51; Average score 22-17.

Match officials:

The referee is Romain Poite of France. He was born on 14 September 1975 in Rochefort, France and made his international debut as a referee on 11 November 2006 in a test match between Morocco and Namibia in Casablanca.

This test match will be his 58th test and the 10th with South Africa involved. The previous nine tests ended in five wins and four losses for the Boks for a 56% win record.

The Assistant Referees are Glen Jackson and Ben O’Keeffe, both of New Zealand. The TMO will be Simon McDowell of Ireland.



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