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'Rinse and repeat' for Boks in Durban

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Coach Rassie Erasmus named the most experienced team in Springbok history when he retained the same 23-man matchday squad to the one which defeated Ireland 27-20 in their opening mid-year Test match in Pretoria last week for the second Test at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.

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Erasmus named an unchanged starting XV with a total of 990 Test caps.

The total surpasses the 987 caps amassed by the run-on team in the World Cup Final against New Zealand in France last year.

Furthermore, Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel will become the most-capped centre pairing in South African history on Saturday when they combine in the midfield for the 30th time in Tests.

With 20 players in the matchday squad having World Cup experience and eight players having made their Test season ‘debut’ last weekend – including captain Siya Kolisi (flank), Handre Pollard (flyhalf) and Cheslin Kolbe (wing), among others – Erasmus is hoping for a more clinical performance from his charges this week.

“It’s always tough facing Ireland,” said Erasmus.

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“They are a quality team, they are ranked second in the world, and as we saw last week, they never stop fighting, so we know the magnitude of the challenge that awaits us this weekend.

“We have no doubt they’ll come out even stronger this week, but we also identified the areas of the game that we need to improve on, and it’s vital for us to build on our performance in our quest to win both matches.”

Of this being the most experienced starting lineup in Springbok history, Erasmus said: “We don’t look at such things when we select the team, but this shows how blessed we are with the depth in the squad and the quality of the players we have.

“While it may be an impressive statistic, it will by no means guarantee us a victory.

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“We know we must go out there and play good rugby for the full 80 minutes to get the desired result.”

(Article continues below interview …)

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Erasmus was pleased with the performances by the younger players in the squad last week – Gerhard Steenekamp (prop), Salmaan Moerat (lock), and Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (utility back) – and he expected them to feel even more settled on the field this week.

“They all made a strong impact off the bench, and they have immense potential as individuals,” said Erasmus.

“They’ll become more confident and settled the more they play.

“It was really impressive to see them step up to the challenge of facing a top side such as Ireland, and similarly to the rest of the team, they know this weekend will be an even bigger test, but they’ll be up for the challenge.”

Erasmus was pleased that the six-two split in favour of the forwards on the replacements’ bench gave the team the impact they had hoped for in the second half at Loftus Versfeld, saying: “We considered a few options for the first Test – a five-three split, six-two split, and seven-one split, and we felt that this combination is the best to counter the challenge Ireland poses.

“The replacements made a good impact when they took the field by injecting energy into the game, and we are looking for much of the same from them this week.”

Erasmus expected Ireland to come out all guns blazing.

“We’ve been on the wrong side of the scoreboard on a few occasions too and we remember how it felt to suffer a defeat against them in the World Cup pool stages, and we have no doubt they are feeling the same this week.

“They are a proud team and nation and they’ll be disappointed that they were unable to capitalise on a few opportunities last week close to our tryline, so they will work hard this week to fix their mistakes and ensure that they convert their chances into points.

“This is going to be another physically gruelling match, and just like us, they will be determined to correct the wrongs of last week.

“There is also the other important matter of them of trying to draw the series, while we would be delighted to win both matches, which will fuel their motivation, so it is going to be another spectacle of top-class rugby.”

Erasmus also announced that a handful of players would be released from the 39-man squad to appear in the Currie Cup matches this weekend.

The players who will be released will be confirmed on Wednesday and will rejoin the squad on Sunday.

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Handré Pollard 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Kwagga Smith, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 RG Snyman, 21 Marco van Staden, 22 Grant Williams, 23 Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu.

Date: Saturday, July 13
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Kick-off: 17.00 (16.00 UK time; 15.00 GMT)
Referee: Karl Dickson (England)
Assistant referees: Luke Pearce (England), Craig Evans (Wales)
TMO: Ian Tempest (England)

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In this episode of Walk the Talk, Jim Hamilton chats with double World Cup winner Damian de Allende about all things Springbok rugby, including RWC2023 and the upcoming Ireland series. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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