Flyhalf bolter for Boks
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Franco Mostert and Jesse Kriel will earn their 50th Test caps when the Springboks line up against Scotland in Edinburgh on Saturday.
However, the most significant selection changes are Elton Jantjies and Willie le Roux returning to the starting team, while Frans Steyn is in line to set a new South African record for the longest international career.
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber made two rotational switches and one injury-enforced change to the starting side that defeated Wales 23-18.
Mostert comes in at lock and Elton Jantjies earns a run at flyhalf, with both Lodewyk de Jager and Handré Pollard moving to the replacements bench.
Le Roux has been named to take over at fullback from Damian Willemse, who has to follow concussion return to play protocols after taking a knock to the head last week.
The match will also be memorable for Steyn, who will edge Victor Matfield as the player with the longest Springbok career by becoming the first South African to play Test rugby over 15 calendar years, should he take the field.
Matfield’s career spanned over 14 years and 122 days, while Steyn – who has been on the winning side in 55 of his 72 Tests and scored 144 points – is in line to increase that mark to 15 years and two days in the second of three Tests in the year-end tour on Saturday.
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“Scotland will be a force to be reckoned with at Murrayfield, so it was important for us to maintain continuity within our squad, while at the same time celebrating Jesse and Franco’s 50th caps and giving Elton a chance to start,” said Nienaber.
“Elton has been training very well since the squad assembled before the Castle Lager Lions Series and he’s performed well every time he earned a run, so we thought it was the right time to hand him a start.
“It will be a special day for Jesse and Franco as they run out for their 50th Tests at Murrayfield. They are both fantastic servants of the game and their high work ethic and true team attitude make them vital members of our squad, and we are all delighted to see them achieve this feat.”
The 27-year-old Kriel made his Test debut against Argentina in 2015, but Mostert, who turns 31 at the end of the month, had to wait a year longer for his first cap, which was against Ireland in 2016.
Nienaber also lauded Steyn, who, at 34 years old, showed that he still has what it takes to star at the highest level of the game by being named man of the match against Wales last week.
“Playing international rugby for 15 years is an extraordinary achievement and what makes this feat even more remarkable is that Frans continues to show his class despite being in the twilight of his career,” said Nienaber.
“His influence is equally valuable off the field and it is fantastic to have a player of his calibre guide the young players in the squad.”
The Springboks may have only suffered two defeats against Scotland at Murrayfield since 1994 (in 2002 and 2010), but with the home side coming off a morale-boosting victory against Australia last weekend, and wins against England, France and Italy in the 2021 Six Nations, Nienaber expected a hard grind of a Test.
“Scotland have a quality team with a number of experienced players and a few British & Irish Lions players, so we are under no illusions about the challenge ahead,” said Nienaber.
“They are a physical side with solid set pieces, but they also have the skills to run the ball, so we’ll have to be accurate on attack and defence.
“We laid a good foundation for the tour in Cardiff last week, and we know what areas we would like to improve on. We created opportunities to score points last week, but we didn’t convert some of them, and we also conceded several penalties, so we need to step up our discipline as well.
“The scrums will of course be a key battle with former Springbok scrum coach Pieter de Villiers now serving that role for Scotland, but that is an area of the game we pride ourselves on too, so we need to be physical and accurate up front.”
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Jesse Kriel, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Albertus Smith, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nché.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Lodewyk de Jager, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Handré Pollard, 23 Frans Steyn.
Date: Saturday, November 13
Venue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Kick-off: 13.00 (15.00 SA rime; 13.00 GMT)
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Craig Evans (Wales)
TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia)