The Springbok team to face Scotland in Nelspruit on Saturday shows five changes, three of them on the bench, from the match-23 which beat Italy in the opening round of the Castle Lager Incoming Series last weekend.
The two new players in the starting line-up are scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar, who comes in for the injured Jano Vermaak, and loose forward Marcell Coetzee, who replaces Francois Louw.
On the bench, there is a return to Test rugby for Bismarck du Plessis, 10 months after he picked up a serious knee ligament injury against Argentina in Cape Town last year.
Du Plessis, who has come through numerous training sessions with the Springboks and The Sharks as well as three club matches in Durban, will be joined on the bench by the uncapped duo of Siya Kolisi (loose forward) and Piet van Zyl (scrumhalf).
“It’s great to have Bismarck back in the mix, but I’m even more excited about the inclusion of Piet and Siya on the bench,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
“This time last year, Piet and Siya, along with Arno Botha, were part of the group of six young guns who trained with us and now all three are in the Test match squad. I’m very happy with the progress they’ve shown in the last 12 months.”
Kolisi, Botha and abrasive lock Eben Etzebeth played together for the South African Under-20 team in 2011.
Apart from the experienced Pienaar’s inclusion at scrumhalf, the backline is unchanged from the one that scored four of the five tries against Italy last week. Coetzee’s inclusion at flank is the only change to the forward pack.
“To have this kind of continuity is good as we prepare for a Test where the focus is on ourselves, and how we want to improve on certain areas from last week where we felt we let ourselves down,” said Meyer.
“We respect Scotland, but we’ve set ourselves some benchmarks which we would like to achieve during this series. Saturday’s Test provides another opportunity to reach these aims.”
The Springbok team to face Scotland in Nelspruit (with province and caps) is:
15. Willie le Roux (GWK Griquas, 1)
14. Bryan Habana (DHL Western Province, 84)
13. JJ Engelbrecht (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 2)
12. Jean de Villiers (captain, DHL Western Province, 85)
11. Bjorn Basson (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 7)
10. Morné Steyn (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 43)
9. Ruan Pienaar (Ulster, N-Ireland, 64)
8. Pierre Spies (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 51)
7. Arno Botha (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 1)
6. Marcell Coetzee (The Sharks, 13)
5. Juandré Kruger (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 9)
4. Eben Etzebeth (DHL Western Province, 12)
3. Jannie du Plessis (The Sharks, 43)
2. Adriaan Strauss (vice-captain, Toyota FS Cheetahs, 22)
1. Tendai Mtawarira (The Sharks, 42)
16. Bismarck du Plessis (The Sharks, 46)
17. Trevor Nyakane (Toyota FS Cheetahs, 1)
18. Coenie Oosthuizen (Toyota FS Cheetahs,3)
19. Flip van der Merwe (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 24)
20. Siya Kolisi (DHL Western Province, 0)
21. Piet van Zyl (Toyota FS Cheetahs, 0)
22. Pat Lambie (The Sharks, 21)
23. Jan Serfontein (Vodacom Blue Bulls, 1)
Stats and facts:
•South Africa and Scotland have played each other 22 times since 1906, with the Springboks winning 17 Tests and losing five time. The Springboks have scored 539 points and 68 tries and conceded 247 points and 25 tries for an average score of 25-11.
•South Africa and Scotland last met on 17 November 2012 in Edinburgh. The Springboks won 21-10.
•Jean de Villiers will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok centre, with 70 Tests in this position.
•Bryan Habana will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok wing, with 83 Tests in this position.
•Morné Steyn will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok flyhalf, with 42 Tests in this position.
•Pierre Spies will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok No. 8, with 46 Tests in this position.
•If Siya Kolisi and Piet van Zyl take the field, they will make their Tests debuts for South Africa.
•If he scores a try, Bryan Habana will extend his record of 48 Test tries for South Africa. He will then also equal Joost van der Westhuizen’s career record of four tries against Scotland. This will also elevate him to 245 career points for South Africa and fourth on the all-time point scorers list for the Springboks.
•If he scores a try, Morné Steyn will extend his record of seven Test tries as a flyhalf for South Africa.
•If he scores a try, Pierre Spies will extend his record of seven Test tries as a No. 8 for South Africa.
•Bismarck du Plessis needs a try to become the sole record holder of career tries by a Springbok hooker in Tests. He shares this record of six with John Smit. He is back in the match-23 after injuring his knee against Argentina on 18 August 2012 at Newlands.
•There is eight former pupils from Grey College in Bloemfontein in the match-23 – Ruan Pienaar, Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Bismarck du Plessis, Coenie Oosthuizen, Flip van der Merwe, Piet van Zyl and Jan Serfontein.
•The referee is Romain Poite of France. It will be his second Test involving South Africa. He was the man in the middle when the Springboks beat Fiji 49-3 on 17 September 2011 in Wellington at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
•It will be the first ever Test to be played at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, which was built for the FIFA Soccer World Cup in South Africa in 2010.