JP Pietersen (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - 2007 was obviously a fantastic year for the Springboks, and their triumphant World Cup campaign in France all started with a convincing 59-7 win over Samoa in Paris.
Having been heavily criticised for backing the 'golden oldies' at this tournament, Bok coach Heyneke Meyer's starting line-up this Saturday will feature six players who started that match against Samoa in 2007.
Here they are:
Jean de Villiers
Without a doubt the most controversial of Meyer's selections right now, De Villiers played 43 minutes of the 2007 tournament opener before leaving the field with a torn bicep. That injury would be enough to rule him out for the rest of the tournament as Frans Steyn stepped in to become the youngest World Cup winner in history. De Villiers has had more well-documented injuries since, but he has overcome them to get another crack at World Cup glory eight years later. The pressure is firmly on the Bok skipper to prove that he was it takes to a) rediscover his form of days past and b) lead the Boks to a World Cup revival.
The Matfield/Bakkies Botha lock pairing of 2007 is considered one of the major influences in the Boks winning the tournament. Matfield played 80 minutes against Samoa and he would go on to play every minute during the knockout stages. Nobody can argue with Matfield's pedigree, but there are many who believe that 38-year-old's participation at RWC 2015 is a step too far. Lood de Jager was perhaps the only shining light to emerge from last weekend's criminal loss to Japan, but he drops to the bench against Samoa on Saturday to accommodate the returning Eben Etzebeth, while Matfield retains his place.
Fourie du Preez
The scrumhalf was a crucial cog in 2007 and his half-back pairing with Butch James proved solid throughout. Injury has plagued his World Cup build-up in 2015, but of the three Bok No 9s at the tournament, it is clear that the onus is on Du Preez to spark the revival. The only concern is his lack of game time, and Meyer will be hoping now more than ever that the sporting cliche of 'class being permanent' reveals itself in a big way.
The 24-year-old Burger that started against Samoa would go on to be a favourite of coach Jake White's at the tournament. He played at openside flank and No 8 (in one game) during the campaign, but it was at the breakdown where he was so effective. Burger played every minute of the knockout stages. He has overcome a major health scare to get back to the top, and remains a key player for the Boks in 2015.
Habana is South Africa's all-time leading try-scorer and as a result his contribution to South African rugby has been immense, but is he still the player he was eight years ago? The wing scored a remarkable four tries in that match against Samoa in 2007, and how fans would love for him to rediscover that kind of finishing form on Saturday.
Pietersen was Habana's wing partner at the 2007 showpiece and his defensive capabilities were considered one of his major strengths. The Sharks man came off the bench in the loss to Japan, and Lwazi Mvovo will consider himself unlucky to miss out on another crack against Samoa. But in selecting Pietersen, Meyer is perhaps seeking a more balanced and experienced back three. Pietersen will have a few eyes on him, though, with the jury seemingly still out on whether or not he is still the best No 14 in South Africa.
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