The Springbok starting team to face Italy in Padova on Saturday shows four changes from the side which beat England at Twickenham last week, with three new faces amongst the pack and one in the backline.
There are also five changes on the bench, with Nizaam Carr and Julian Redelinghuys included in a Test match-23 for the first time.
Trevor Nyakane will start his first Test for South Africa at loosehead prop, while Coenie Oosthuizen moves up from the bench to replace the injured Jannie du Plessis at tighthead. Teboho ‘Oupa’ Mohoje returns to the starting line-up while Johan Goosen has been selected at fullback.
Joining Carr and Redelinghuys on the bench, are Gurthrö Steenkamp, Lood de Jager and Willie le Roux. Tendai Mtawarira has been given a break after carrying a heavy workload recently.
“I’m excited to see what these guys can do on Saturday in what will be a stern Test against a fired-up Italy,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
“We planned to make a few shifts for this Test as I’d like to see if these players can make the step up. The guys coming in deserve their opportunities and seeing that we won’t have our overseas-based players available next week against Wales, it made sense to bring a few of them in this week.”
Meyer said he was impressed by the commitment shown by all the uncapped players at training on the tour and that Carr and Redelinghuys are ready for selection.
“Nizaam can cover all the positions in the back-row and his call-up is just-reward after a very good season for the DHL Stormers and Western Province,” said the Springbok coach.
“Julian has been superb for the Lions this season and he’s shown that he can scrum. Both of them are now familiar with our plays and structures and I’m looking forward to see what they can bring on Saturday.
“It will also be a good test for Johan, who I’ve always regarded as a possibility at fullback. He has a great skill-set and a massive boot which will come in handy on Saturday if we have to play in wet weather again.”
Meyer said the Test against Italy will pose different challenges to what the Springboks had faced thus far on the tour.
“They are a passionate nation with a very experienced coach in Jacques Brunel and a world-class captain in Sergio Parisse,” said Meyer.
“The Italian pack is always formidable and their backs are not scared of taking chances. Our focus is to show improvements from our performance at Twickenham and we know it will be a big challenge on Saturday.”
The Springbok team to face Italy in Padova is:
|Position||Name||Test Caps||Test points|
|12||Jean de Villiers (captain)||104||135|
|7||Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje||5||0|
|5||Victor Matfield (vice-captain)||119||35|
|16||Bismarck du Plessis||68||45|
|19||Lood de Jager||7||10|
|23||Willie le Roux||23||35|
Stats and facts:
- The Springbok starting team boasts a total of 610 Test caps (332 in the backline and 278 in the forwards), while there are a further 190 caps worth of experience on the bench.
- South Africa and Italy have played each other 11 times since 1995, with the Springboks winning all 11 Tests. The Springboks have scored 577 points and 79 tries and conceded 139 points and 12 tries for an average score of 52-13.
- South Africa and Italy last met on 8 June 2013 at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban. The Springboks won 44-10 and outscored Italy by five tries to one.
- Jean de Villiers will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok centre, with 89 Tests in this position and will captain South Africa for the 33rd time, placing him third behind John Smit (83) and Gary Teichmann (36).
- Victor Matfield will extend his record as the most capped Springbok in history (119 Tests). He will also extend his record of 119 Tests as a lock and will also extend his record as the oldest Springbok ever at 37 years & 188 days.
- Bryan Habana will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok wing, with 104 Tests in this position. If he scores a try, he will extend his record of 56 Test tries for South Africa.
- Matfield and Habana will share the record for the most Tests against Italy when they play the Azzurri for the sixth time – they previously shared this record with Ruan Pienaar and Andre Venter.
- If he goes on and scores a try Bismarck du Plessis will extend his record of nine Test tries for South Africa as a hooker.
- If he goes on and scores a try, Gurthro Steenkamp will extend his record of six tries for South Africa as a prop.
- Willie le Roux, Duane Vermeulen, Jannie du Plessis and Bismarck du Plessis have played in all eleven Tests for the Springboks in 2014. Bryan Habana, Cornal Hendricks and Tendai Mtawarira have both missed only one Test in 2014.
- Johan Goosen will start at fullback for the first time in a Test. Trevor Nyakane will be in the starting line-up for the first time after 11 appearances from the bench. Coenie Oosthuizen will start at tight-head for the first time since France in November 2013. Oosthuizen started at loose-head against Scotland earlier this year.
- Julian Redelinghuys and Nizaam Carr will both make their debuts for South Africa if they come off the bench, becoming Springboks No. 865 and 866. Ten new Springboks have been created to date in 2014.
- It will be the fifth time that a Springbok team has three centurions in the starting line-up. The four previous times were against Australia and New Zealand in the Rugby Championship and against Ireland and England.
- It will be Heyneke Meyer’s 36th Test in charge of the Springboks since he took over in 2012. Of the previous 35 Tests South Africa have won 25, lost eight and drawn twice.
- The referee is Jerome Garces of France. It will be his fourth Test involving South Africa. Of the previous three Tests the Springboks have won two and lost one. His last Test involving South Africa was in September this year against New Zealand in
- Wellington in the Rugby Championship – a game that the Springboks lost narrowly by 10-14.
- This will be the Springbok’s first ever Test match at Stadio Euganio, Padova.