Jean de Villiers (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - If reports from Birmingham are to be believed, then Jean de Villiers and Victor Matfield will keep their places in the Springbok starting team for Saturday’s Rugby World Cup clash against Samoa.
The two veterans copped heavy criticism following South Africa’s shock 34-32 defeat to Japan in Brighton last weekend.
Indications during practice this week indicated that skipper De Villiers will start at outside centre, with Damian de Allende coming in at inside centre.
Jesse Kriel, who was at outside centre against Japan, appears set to be dropped.
Willie le Roux is also likely to replace Zane Kirchner at fullback, with JP Pietersen also expected to replace Lwazi Mvovo at wing.
Handre Pollard will also start at flyhalf in place of Pat Lambie, while Fourie du Preez will return at scrumhalf in place of Ruan Pienaar.
Up front, Matfield will keep his place, but Lood de Jager - who performed well against Japan - will have to make way for Eben Etzebeth.
Duane Vermeulen has returned to full fitness and is set to start at No 8, with Pieter-Steph du Toit dropping out.
Saturday’s clash at Villa Park is scheduled for 17:45.
Probable Springbok team:
15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 JP Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss,17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Morne Steyn, 23 Jesse Kriel