Experienced backline stars JP Pietersen and Jaque Fourie are back in the Springbok team for Saturday’s Castle Lager Outgoing Tour opener against Wales in Cardiff, while Frans Malherbe will make his Test debut at the Millennium Stadium.
In naming his side for Saturday’s Test against the current Six Nations champions, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has decided to hand Fourie his first Test for South Africa since the Rugby World Cup in 2011, while a combination of injury and non-availability means Pietersen is back for his first taste of international rugby yet this season.
“We’re very fortunate to have two world-class players in JP and Jaque available for selection and I wanted to get then into the action as soon as possible,” said Meyer.
“They bring a vast amount of experience to the team and it was clear from our training sessions thus far that they are in great form and ready for Test rugby.”
In the front row, 22-year-old Frans Malherbe comes in for the injured Jannie du Plessis, while the only other change to the pack of forwards is at lock, with Flip van der Merwe starting next to Eben Etzebeth in the middle row.
“Frans has big boots to fill, but he’s been with us for most of 2012 and shown good form since recovering from injury recently and we don’t have any doubts that he has what it takes to make the step up,” said Meyer.
“He’ll have two players with more than 50 Test caps each next to him in the scrum, and his general work-rate across the field and on defence is very good. I’m very happy for Frans.”
A second uncapped player, Pieter-Steph du Toit, could make his Test debut for the Springboks. The promising lock has been included on the bench for this Test.
“I’ve been following his career for a long time and Pieter-Steph has always impressed me,” said Meyer.
“We first invited him to a training camp last year and he probably would’ve played for South Africa earlier this season had he not gotten injured. His inclusion in the squad is just reward for a young player who has successfully made the step up to senior rugby.
“To see Frans and Pieter-Steph make the step up to Test match rugby is wonderful. They are two very promising young players and deserve to play for the Springboks, just like we’ve used, with great success, players such as Willie le Roux, Jan Serfontein, JJ Engelbrecht, Arno Botha, Marcell Coetzee, Siya Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth and Trevor Nyakane in the last two seasons.”
The Springbok team to face Wales in Cardiff is:
15. Pat Lambie 29 caps 55 points
14. JP Pietersen 48 caps 70 points
13. Jaque Fourie 69 caps 160 points
12. Jean de Villiers (captain) 93 caps 120 points
11. Bryan Habana 92 caps 265 points
10. Morné Steyn 51 caps 618 points
9. Fourie du Preez 65 caps 70 points
8. Duane Vermeulen 13 caps 5 points
7. Willem Alberts 27 caps 30 points
6. Francois Louw 25 caps 25 points
5. Flip van der Merwe 31 caps 5 points
4. Eben Etzebeth 20 caps 0 points
3. Frans Malherbe 0 caps 0 points
2. Bismarck du Plessis (v-captain) 54 caps 40 points
1. Tendai Mtawarira 50 caps 10 points
16. Adriaan Strauss 30 caps 25 points
17. Gurthrö Steenkamp 46 caps 30 points
18. Coenie Oosthuizen 11 caps 5 points
19. Pieter-Steph du Toit 0 caps 0 points
20. Siya Kolisi 8 caps 0 points
21. Ruan Pienaar 71 caps 130 points
22. JJ Engelbrecht 10 caps 20 points
23. Willie le Roux 9 caps 15 points
Stats and facts:
•The Springbok starting team boasts a total of 667 Test caps (447 in the backline and 220 in the forwards), while there are a further 185 caps worth of experience on the bench.
•South Africa and Wales last met on 11 September, 2011 at the Wellington Regional Stadium (also known as the Westpac Stadium) in Wellington during the pool stage of the Rugby World Cup. The Springboks beat Wales narrowly by 17-16 thanks to a late try by Francois Hougaard, converted by Morné Steyn.
•Jean de Villiers will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok centre, with 78 Tests in this position. He will also be the captain for the 22nd time in a row and will draw level with Dawie de Villiers in fourth place on the list of Springbok captains, behind John Smit (83), Gary Teichmann (36) and Francois Pienaar (29).
•Bryan Habana will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok wing, with 91 Tests in this position and if he scores a try, will extend his record of 53 Test tries for South Africa.
•Morné Steyn will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok flyhalf, with 50 Tests in this position. If he scores a try, he will also extend his record of seven Test tries as a flyhalf for South Africa.
•Should he score, Bismarck du Plessis will extend his record of eight Test tries for South Africa as a hooker.
•If he takes to the field and scores a try, Gurthrö Steenkamp will extend his own record of six tries as a prop for South Africa.
•Jaque Fourie last played for South Africa against Australia in the quarter-final of the 2011 Rugby World Cup in Australia. If he scores a try he will extend his record of 28 Test tries for South Africa as a centre.
•If he takes to the field Pieter-Steph du Toit will become the second Springbok whose grandfather also played for South Africa. His granddad Piet (Spiere) du Toit played 14 Tests for SA from 1958 to 1961, including the 1960 test match against Wales in Cardiff, which the Springboks won 3-0. Francois Louw’s grandfather Jan Pickard played four Tests for SA from 1956-1958.
•The referee is Alain Rolland of Ireland. This will be his 17th Test involving South Africa, which is the record for an international referee in South African Test matches. The Springboks have won nine and lost seven of these encounters. His last game was the test against New Zealand on 6 October, 2012 at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, when the Boks lost by 16-32. (Rolland was scheduled to handle the game between South Africa and Australia in Brisbane on 7 September this year, but due to an injury he had to withdraw and was replaced by George Clancy.)
Springbok Test match records at Cardiff Arms Park and Millennium Stadium:
•Most points – 23 (1t, 3c, 4p) by Percy Montgomery on 6 November, 2004 against Wales.
•Most tries – three by Joost van der Westhuizen on 15 December, 1996 against Wales.
•Most conversions – three by Percy Montgomery on 6 November, 2004 against Wales and by Andre Pretorius on 24 November, 2007 against Wales.
•Most penalty goals – five by Morné Steyn on 13 November, 2010 against Wales.
•Most drop goals – two by Percy Montgomery on 4 November, 1999 against New Zealand.
The Springboks and Wales have played 15 times in Cardiff since 1912 with the Boks winning 13, losing one (19-29 in 1999) and drawn one (6-6 in 1970). The last game between the two countries was in 2010, with the Boks winning 29-25.
The Boks have scored 327 points (35 tries) against 236 points (18 tries) for an average of 22-16.