Cape Town - A new era of Springbok rugby begins on Saturday when South Africa take on Ireland at Newlands in the first of three Tests.
Allister Coetzee will have his first match in charge, the Boks will field two debutants in Faf de Klerk and Bongi Mbonambi and Lionel Mapoe will finally be rewarded for his superb Super Rugby form over the last two seasons.
All of that hype has seen Siya Kolisi's inclusion in the starting lineup fly under the radar somewhat.
Remarkably, Kolisi will earn his first start for the Springboks on Saturday despite making his debut all the way back in 2013.
Since then, all 13 of his Test appearances have come off the bench.
But on Saturday he will wear the No 7 jersey.
"It feels like my first time playing for the Springboks, in
a way," Kolisi said.
"It’s been a really good year provincially and I feel great about it."
He may not have the physical presence of a Willem Alberts, but Kolisi is expected to do a large portion of the ball carrying against the Irish.
"What I’m looking forward to is
for him to keep carrying like he did (in Super Rugby)," Coetzee said.
"He’s renowned for being a strong ball carrier
and I’d like to see that.
"I want to see him come up with that work rate … if he
has to play towards the ball, he must do that. If he has to carry and even in
the lineout be an option, he’s got to do that. It’s not just to play what is
perceived to be your role, but to come with double and triple actions."
So, that is the challenge the coach has given the 24-year-old Kolisi, and he in no way doubts the importance of his role.
"They are going to be the most important carries I would have had in my career so far," the Stormers loosie said.
is my carries that are going to get us going forward, so I’m going to do
everything I can to get us front-foot ball. It’s going to be tough, but I’m
willing to take the challenge."
But don't expect those carries to resemble the bulldozing nature of those delivered by Alberts.
"We’re two different types of players … he’s a big player,
so I’m going to have to use my footwork," said Kolisi.
"I can’t just go in directly … I’m
going to have to use a different approach.
"I’m not the same as him, I can’t
just go straight in and run over the guys. I’m going to have to find a way of
doing what work for me."
Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:00.
15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Julian Redelinghuys, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Warren Whiteley, 21 Rudy Paige 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Jesse Kriel
15 Jared Payne, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best (captain) 1 Jack McGrath
Substitutes: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Finlay Bealham, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Ultan Dillane, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Kieran Marmion 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Craig Gilroy