Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Wednesday announced a Springbok line-up showing three changes and two positional switches from the team that played in Mendoza for their third Castle Lager Rugby Championship Test of 2013, against Australia at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
Upfront, Bismarck du Plessis takes over at hooker and vice-captain from Adriaan Strauss, while Flip van der Merwe will pack down at lock for Juandré Kruger. Strauss and Kruger move to the replacement bench.
At the back, Willie le Roux shifts from fullback to right wing in the place of Bjorn Basson, with Bryan Habana moving over to the left. Zane Kirchner, who is back to full fitness following a hand injury earlier in the season, will start his first Test of the year at fullback.
“A few of these changes are purely rotational in order to give guys with fresh legs a go, while others are simply a case of horses for courses,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
“We’re fortunate to be in a position to rotate players of the calibre of Bismarck and Adriaan, while we felt this was the right opportunity to give Flip and Zane a go in the starting team.
“In the end, the most important factor still remains consistency in selection. In our squad, any player can slot in at any stage, and that is a good position to be in.”
Meyer reiterated the massive challenge of playing Australia at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday evening and said that the Springboks are looking forward to testing themselves against one of the best sides in the world.
“If we are going to progress as a team, we need to start winning away from home and Saturday’s Test provides this challenge,” said Meyer.
“It’s no use looking at history now – we have to focus on the Test, ensure we tick the right boxes and improve in the areas where we let ourselves down in Mendoza.”
The Springbok team to face Australia in Brisbane is:
15 Zane Kirchner, 24 caps
14 Willie le Roux, 5
13 JJ Engelbrecht, 6
12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 89
11 Bryan Habana, 88
10 Morné Steyn, 47
9 Ruan Pienaar, 68
8 Duane Vermeulen, 9
7 Willem Alberts, 23
6 Francois Louw, 21
5 Flip van der Merwe, 28
4 Eben Etzebeth, 16
3 Jannie du Plessis, 47
2 Bismarck du Plessis, 50
1 Tendai Mtawarira, 46
16 Adriaan Strauss, 26
17 Gurthrö Steenkamp, 42
18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 7
19 Juandré Kruger, 13
20 Siya Kolisi, 4
21 Jano Vermaak, 1
22 Pat Lambie, 25
23 Jan Serfontein, 5
Stats and facts:
• The Springbok starting team boasts a total of 567 Test caps (327 in the backline and 240 in the forwards), while there are a further 122 caps worth of experience on the bench.
• South Africa and Australia have played each other 76 times since 1933, with the Springboks winning 42 tests, losing 33 and one was drawn. The Springboks have scored 1435 points and 172 tries and conceded 1337 points and 138 tries for an average score of 19-18.
• South Africa and Australia last met on 29 September 2012 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. The Springboks won by 31-8, a game in which Bryan Habana scored a hat-trick of tries.
• Jean de Villiers will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok centre, with 74 Tests in this position.
• Bryan Habana will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok wing, with 87 Tests in this position and if he scores a try, will extend his record of 51 Test tries for South Africa. He also just needs one try to equal the Rugby Championship record of Christian Cullen (New Zealand) who scored 16 tries in his Rugby Championship (Tri-Nations) career. He will also extend his own SA record of nine career tries against Australia.
• Morné Steyn will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok flyhalf, with 46 Tests in this position. If he scores a try, Morné will extend his record of seven Test tries as a flyhalf for South Africa and if he scores a drop goal, he will extend his own record of three career drop goals against Australia.
• Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis will extend their SA record of playing together in 26 Tests for South Africa. If he scores a try, Bismarck will also extend his own record of seven Test tries for South Africa as a hooker.
• If he goes on and scores a try, Gurthrö Steenkamp will extend his own record of six tries as a prop for South Africa.
• The referee is George Clancy of Ireland. This will be his eighth Test involving South Africa. In the previous seven South Africa have won five and lost two. His last game was the test against Scotland on 17 November, 2012 at Murrayfield in Edinburgh (SA won 21-10).
Springbok Test match records against Australia at stadiums in Brisbane (seven at Suncorp Stadium (previously Lang Park), two at the Exhibition Ground, one at Ballymore Stadium and one at the Gabba):
o Most points – 10 by Joel Stransky (2c, 2p) against Australia on 14 August, 1993.
o Most tries – two by Piet Visagie on 31 July, 1971 and Marius Joubert on 27 July, 2002.
o Most conversions – two by Joel Stransky on 14 August, 1993 and by André Pretorius on 27 July, 2002.
o Most penalty goals – three by Louis Koen on 2 August, 2003.
o Most drop goals – one by Tom van Vollenhoven on 2 June, 1956 and Morne Steyn on 5 September, 2009.
The Springboks have never beaten Australia at Suncorp Stadium. The only two previous wins against Australia in Brisbane were at the Exhibition Ground (in 1956 and 1971). The Springboks beat Samoa 60-10 on 1 November, 2003 during the Rugby World Cup.