Cape Town - Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus expects a massive challenge from the Italian pack and has therefore opted to load his bench with forwards for the Rugby World Cup Pool B match in Shizuoka on Friday.

It will be the 15th match between the two nations and Erasmus has gone for a six-two forwards-backs split on the bench.

"Italy have a very good pack and put a lot of effort in their set phases," the coach told the Springboks' official website.

"People may think it is a gamble to have only two back replacements, but we want to have plenty of ammunition for what is likely to be a major forward battle.

"It's a 23-player game these days and the players who come on will be expected to contribute almost as much in game time as those who start among the front rowers.

"But for this game we are asking the players we have chosen to start to set the tone."

Erasmus said the Azzurri would provide the Boks with stern challenge.

"Italy have had their eyes on this match for a couple of years and will have planned and schemed how to bring us down once again," said Erasmus.

"This is a defining match for them and while we were focusing on the New Zealand game, they will have had their eyes on this one as the key to the quarter-finals for them.

"That means we have to be at our absolute best if we are to beat them - we are at the stage already where there are no second chances. That’s a message we have been emphasising to the players this week."

Erasmus’s decision to have only two backs on the bench was an option he believed the team had the resources to manage.

"We have versatile players in the backs who can cover a number of positions and we have planned for different scenarios," he said.

"This game is going to be decided by the forwards and at the set phases and we wanted to maximise our options in those battles."

Kick-off is at 11:45 (SA time).

Teams:

South Africa

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Franco Mostert, 21 Francois Louw, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Frans Steyn

Italy

TBA

- SA Rugby