Cheslin Kolbe will play his first Test at fullback when he makes a return to the Springbok team for the first time since July in a settled team to face the top-ranked team in the world, Ireland, at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday as Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber targets a strong start to the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour.
Kolbe, whose last Test was in the Castle Lager Incoming Series against Wales, will start in an exciting back three with Kurt-Lee Arendse and Makazole Mapimpi, while Jesse Kriel will pair up with Damian de Allende in an experienced midfield.
Damian Willemse will don the No 10 jersey in a halfback pairing with Jaden Hendrikse (scrumhalf), while Nienaber opted for Jasper Wiese at No 8 in a loose trio with Pieter Steph-du Toit and Siya Kolisi, given the physical challenge expected from the Irish forwards.
The front row features props Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe and hooker Malcolm Marx, with Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager in the engine room, while the bench features a split of six forwards and two backs.
Bongi Mbonambi (hooker), Ox Nche and Vincent Koch (both props) will be joined by utility forwards Franco Mostert, Kwagga Smith and Deon Fourie as the forward replacements, while Faf de Klerk (scrumhalf) and Willie le Roux (fullback) will be the two backs on the bench.
On the injury front, Nienaber said Sbu Nkosi (wing) and Marco van Staden (flanker), who suffered rib injuries in the Vodacom Bulls’ clash against the Cell C Sharks in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship on Sunday, would not join the squad and will not be replaced at this stage as there is sufficient cover in the touring group.
Springbok team to face Ireland in Dublin:
15 – Cheslin Kolbe (Toulon) – 20 caps, 50 pts (10t)
14 – Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls) – 3 caps, 10 pts (2t)
13 – Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles) – 56 caps, 60 pts (12t)
12 – Damian de Allende (Wild Knights) – 66 caps, 45 pts (9t)
11 – Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks) – 33 caps, 110 pts (22t)
10 – Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) – 23 caps, 19 pts (1t, 4c, 2p)
9 – Jaden Hendrikse (Cell C Sharks) – 10 caps, 12 pts (2t, 1c)
8 – Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers) – 18 caps, 5 pts (1t)
7 – Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz) – 64 caps, 15 pts (3t)
6 – Siya Kolisi (captain, Cell C Sharks) – 71 caps, 35 pts (7t)
5 – Lood de Jager (Wild Knights) – 64 caps, 25 pts (5t)
4 – Eben Etzebeth (Cell C Sharks) – 106 caps, 15 pts (3t)
3 – Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers) – 54 caps, 5 pts (1t)
2 – Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears) – 55 caps, 65 pts (13t)
1 – Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers) – 67 caps, 5 pts (1t)
16 – Bongi Mbonambi (Cell C Sharks) – 52 caps, 55 pts (11t)
17 – Ox Nche (Cell C Sharks) – 15 caps, 0 pts
18 – Vincent Koch (unattached) – 38 caps, 0 pts
19 – Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) – 59 caps, 10 pts (2t)
20 – Deon Fourie (DHL Stormers) – 3 caps, 0 pts
21 – Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs) – 27 caps, 15 pts (3t)
22 – Faf de Klerk (Canon Eagles) – 42 caps, 25 pts (5t)
23 – Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz) – 79 caps, 65 pts (13t)
Springbok record against Ireland:
Played 26; Won 18; Lost 7; Drawn 1; Points for: 506, Points against: 380; Tries scored 69, Tries conceded 35; Highest score 38-0; Biggest win 38 points. Win % 69%.
- Siya Kolisi is the second most capped Springbok captain, having led the team in 41 Tests.
- Eben Etzebeth is the second most capped Springbok lock with 106 Tests.
- Etzebeth will equal Tendai Mtawarira and CJ van der Linde’s record of seven Test matches against Ireland.
- The total Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is 710.
- There are 211 caps in the backline with 499 caps amongst the forwards. On the bench there are a further 315 caps.
- The average caps per player in the backline are 30, the forwards 62, while the players on the bench average 39.
- Willie le Roux will play in his 80th Test match. He has played 75 as fullback, trailing the most capped fullback Percy Montgomery by 12 Tests in the No 15 jersey.