JP Pietersen will on Sunday become the 28th player to reach 50 Springbok Test caps when he runs out against Scotland at Murrayfield in Edinburgh in the second match of the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour.
The 27-year-old Pietersen, who will return from Japan to Durban to play for The Sharks in Vodacom Super Rugby next season, made his Test debut on 9 September 2006 against Australia in Johannesburg when he was only 20.
Pietersen, a Rugby World Cup winner in 2007, will become the fifth player this season to earn his 50th Test cap for South Africa. Only two other wingers, Bryan Habana and Breyton Paulse, have reached this milestone for the Springboks.
“This is really a magnificent achievement for one of the many world-class wingers South African rugby has produced,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
“For more than seven years, JP has been one of the most consistent players for the Springboks. He always gives everything he has for his country and this is just reward for the hard work and dedication he’s put in over the years. Was it not for injuries, JP would probably have played many more Tests for South Africa”
As anticipated, Meyer made a total of five changes to the starting line-up, while two more are possible because of injury niggles.
In the tight five, Bakkies Botha returns for the first time since the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in 2011, while Gurthrö Steenkamp and Adriaan Strauss will start at Murrayfield. Eben Etzebeth, Tendai Mtawarira and Bismarck du Plessis are on the bench.
In the backline, Willie le Roux takes over at fullback with Pat Lambie shifting to flyhalf. A final call on the availability of Morné Steyn (back) and Willem Alberts (shoulder) will be made on Saturday.
If Alberts is unfit to start, Siya Kolisi will take his place on the side of the scrum. Marcell Coetzee has been included on the bench in another rotational change with Kolisi, who will sit out if Alberts is passed fit. Steyn has been included on the bench pending a fitness test on Saturday.
“We said from the start of the tour that we were going to make a few changes for this Test,” said Meyer.
“We need to keep players fresh and motivated. Willie and Pat both did well after we lost Morné last weekend and deserve another opportunity on Sunday.
“Gurthrö and Adriaan, who will take over the vice-captaincy as well, have been part of the squad for a long time and will slot in easily. Furthermore, it has been great to have Bakkies back. His enthusiasm has been contagious and the younger guys have already learned a lot from spending time with him.
“We got our tour off to a good start last week against Wales in Cardiff and the focus this week has been on further improvement in a number of key areas of the game, most notably our discipline. In the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, we conceded the fewest penalties, but last week against Wales we were penalised too much. It’s something that is very important to us and we are working very hard on our discipline.”
The Springbok team to face Scotland in Edinburgh is:
15. Willie le Roux 10 caps 15 points
14. JP Pietersen 49 caps 70 points
13. Jaque Fourie 70 caps 160 points
12. Jean de Villiers (captain) 94 caps 125 points
11. Bryan Habana 93 caps 265 points
10. Pat Lambie 30 caps 57 points
9. Fourie du Preez 66 caps 75 points
8. Duane Vermeulen 14 caps 5 points
7. Willem Alberts 28 caps 30 points/Siya Kolisi 9 caps 0 points
6. Francois Louw 26 caps 25 points
5. Flip van der Merwe 32 caps 5 points
4. Bakkies Botha 76 caps 35 points
3. Frans Malberhe 1 caps 0 points
2. Adriaan Strauss (vice-captain) 31 caps 25 points
1. Gurthrö Steenkamp 47 caps 30 points
16. Bismarck du Plessis 55 caps 45 points
17. Tendai Mtawarira 51 caps 10 points
18. Coenie Oosthuizen 12 caps 5 points
19. Eben Etzebeth 22 caps 0 points
20. Marcell Coetzee 14 caps 5 points
21. Ruan Pienaar 72 caps 130 points
22. Morné Steyn 52 caps 627 points/AN Other
23. JJ Engelbrecht 11 caps 20 points
Stats and facts:
•The Springbok starting team boasts a total of 667 Test caps (412 in the backline and 255 in the forwards), while there are a further 278 caps worth of experience on the bench.
•South Africa and Scotland last met on 15 June 2013 at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit during the Castle Lager Incoming Series. The Springboks outscored Scotland by 30-17 and three tries to two.
•JP Pietersen will be playing in his 50th Test for South Africa. He played 47 of the previous 49 on the wing and two at fullback.
•Jean de Villiers will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok centre, with 79 Tests in this position. He will be the captain for the 23rd consecutive Test, which will put him in fourth place on the list of SA Captains behind John Smit (83), Gary Teichmann (36) and Francois Pienaar (29). Jean and Jaque Fourie will also extend their SA record of 27 Tests as a centre-pairing.
•Bryan Habana will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok wing, with 92 Tests in this position and if he scores a try, will extend his record of 53 Test tries for South Africa.
•If he takes the field, Morné Steyn will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok flyhalf, with 51 Tests in this position. If he scores a try, he will also extend his record of eight Test tries as a flyhalf for South Africa.
•If he takes the field and scores a try Bismarck du Plessis will extend his record of nine Test tries for South Africa as a hooker.
•If he scores a try, Gurthrö Steenkamp will extend his own record of six tries as a prop for South Africa.
•Bakkies Botha last played for South Africa at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand against Namibia, on 22 September 2011.
•If Jaque Fourie scores a try he will extend his record of 28 Test tries for South Africa as a centre.
•The referee is Jerôme Garces of France. This will be his second Test involving South Africa – the first was the Castle Lager Rugby Championship match against Australia on 28 September this year at DHL Newlands in Cape Town, which the Springboks won by 28-8.
Springbok Test match records at Murrayfield:
•Most points – 26 (2t, 8c) by Percy Montgomery on 6 December 1997 against Scotland.
•Most tries – two, by six players, the last was by Adriaan Strauss on 17 November 2012 against Scotland.
•Most conversions – eight by Percy Montgomery on 6 December 1997 against Scotland.
•Most penalty goals – four by Morné Steyn on 20 November 2010 against Scotland.
•Most drop goals – three by Jaco van der Westhuyzen 27 November 2004 against Scotland.