Cape Town - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Wednesday named the same starting line-up that beat New Zealand a month ago to face Ireland in the opening Test of the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour in Dublin on Saturday.
The only change to the match-day squad is at replacement prop, where the injured Marcel van der Merwe is replaced by Coenie Oosthuizen.
“Although Julian Redelinghuys was also considered, he’s still new in the team and not familiar with our patterns of play and especially the line-out calls, while Coenie knows the way we play well,” said Meyer.
“Coenie is also in great shape and we know what he can do, especially if he has to make an impact off the bench. It’s good to have him back.”
Meyer was very happy with the continuity in selection from the last Test.
“It’s only the fifth time in what will be the 34th Test since I was appointed as Springbok coach that we’ve been able to select an unchanged starting line-up,” said Meyer.
“In this day and age, not making changes to teams is pretty much unheard of, but this is a great position we’re in. However, we need to make it count against a very tough Irish side on Saturday.
“Although we won our last Test, the challenge this week is to make another step up. It’s imperative that we improve in all facets of our play.”
The Springbok team to face Ireland in Dublin is:
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Bakkies Botha, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 JP Pietersen
Stats and facts:
• The Springbok starting team boasts a total of 672 Test caps (289 in the backline and 383 in the forwards), while there are a further 316 caps worth of experience on the bench.
• South Africa and Ireland have played each other 21 times since 1906, with the Springboks winning 16 Tests, losing four and one was drawn. The Springboks have scored 417 points and 60 tries and conceded 248 points and 24 tries for an average score of 20-12.
• South Africa and Ireland last met on 10 November 2012 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. The Springboks won 16-12.
• Jean de Villiers will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok centre, with 87 Tests in this position and will captain South Africa for the 31st time, placing him third behind John Smit (83) and Gary Teichmann (36).
• Victor Matfield will extend his own record as the most capped Springbok in history (117 Tests). He will also extend his record of 117 Tests as a lock and will also extend his record as the oldest Springbok ever at 37 years & 146 days.
• Bryan Habana will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok wing, with 102 Tests in this position. If he scores a try, he will extend his record of 56 Test tries for South Africa.
• If he scores a try Bismarck du Plessis will extend his record of nine Test tries for South Africa as a hooker. Bismarck and his older brother Jannie will extend their record of playing together in 40 Tests for the Springboks. Bismarck, Jannie and Tendai Mtawarira will also extend their record of 15 tests in the starting line-up as a front-row trio for South Africa.
• If he goes on as a flank, Schalk Burger will extend his own record as the most-capped Springbok flanker in history (71 caps). If he goes on as a flank and scores a try, he will become the sole record-holder for most Test tries as a flanker (11), a record he currently shares with Juan Smith.
• Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks, Duane Vermeulen, Jannie du Plessis and Bismarck du Plessis have played in all nine Tests for the Springboks in 2014. Bryan Habana and Tendai Mtawarira have both missed only one Test in 2014.
• Schalk Burger (Jnr) and Cobus Reinach (both on the bench) are sons of former Springboks. Schalk Burger (Snr) played six Tests for South Africa (1984-1986) and the late Jaco Reinach four Tests for South Africa in 1986. They played together in all four Tests against the New Zealand Cavaliers in 1986.
• For Pat Lambie this is a return to the city where he made his Test debut off the bench against Ireland in 2010.
• It will be the third time in history that a Springbok team will have three centurions in the starting line-up. The two previous occasions were against Australia and New Zealand in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship earlier this year.
• Adriaan Strauss played against his cousin Richardt Strauss when the Springboks and Ireland last met in Dublin on 10 November, 2012. They are likely to meet each other again as Richardt is in the Ireland squad for this Test match.
• It will be Heyneke Meyer’s 34th Test in charge of the Springboks since he took over in 2012. Of the previous 33 Tests South Africa have won 24, lost seven and drawn twice. His winning percentage of 73% is second only to Kitch Christie’s 100% (14 Tests 1994-1995) since 1992.
• The referee is Romain Poite of France. It will be his fifth Test involving South Africa. In previous Tests the Springboks have won three and lost one. His last Test involving South Africa was in June this year against Wales in Durban - a game that the Springboks won 38-16.
Springbok Test match records in Dublin:
Most points – 12 by Percy Montgomery (3c, 2p) against Ireland on 28 November, 1998 and Percy Montgomery again on 13 November, 2004 (4p)
Most tries – three by Jan Stegmann and “Boetie” McHardy against Ireland on 30 November, 1912.
Most conversions – three Gerhard Morkel against Ireland on 30 November, 1912 and by Percy Montgomery against Ireland on 28 November, 1998.
Most penalty goals – four by Percy Montgomery against Ireland on 13 November, 2004
Most drop goals – one by Hannes Brewis against Ireland on 8 December, 1951 and by Morne Steyn against Ireland on 28 November, 2009.