Japan to face most experienced Bok team ever

Jean De Villiers returns to captain South Africa against Japan

South Africa’s head coach Heyneke Meyer has named a strong team to play Japan
in their Rugby World Cup opening match in Brighton with Jean de Villiers as

The Springboks starting team boasts a combined total of 880 Test caps and eclipses
the previous most experienced South African side at 836 caps which played in
the last Rugby World Cup match against Australia at the quarter final stage.

Meyer has opted to start with Patrick Lambie with Handre Pollard on the replacements
bench. One surprise ommission from the line up is Damien de Allende who has
made way for De Villiers but also possibly fallen out of favour as he is not
named on the replacements bench.

In all the team has six changes from the side that beat Argentina in Buenos
Aires a month ago. De Villiers’ inclusion at inside centre is the only
change to the backline, while Francois Louw returns at the side of the scrum.

The tight five has been reshuffled, with Lood de Jager and Jannie du Plessis
both back from injury, while Bismarck du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira will start
yet again.

On the bench, Coenie Oosthuizen, Fourie du Preez and JP Pietersen return from
injury, while Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane and Siya Kolisi have also been
included amongst the substitutes.

“We’ve decided to go with some form of continuity as it’s
important to get a good start in the tournament, but we also wanted to bring
back a number of players who have recently recovered from injury, ” said

“It’s great to see Jean, Francois, Lood, Jannie, Coenie, Fourie
and JP back in action, and while we probably could’ve played Duane Vermeulen
and Eben Etzebeth, in the end we decided to give them another week to fully
recover from their injuries.

“The backline is almost unchanged as we also decided to reward the players
who did so well in Buenos Aires. There will in all likelihood be changes again
next week but for now these players deserve another opportunity to stake a claim. “

Meyer said Saturday’s Test will be a great occasion against an opponent
that will challenge the Springboks on different levels.

“We play against the big teams from the Southern and Northern Hemisphere
quite often and with them it’s mostly a case of you know what to expect, ”
said Meyer.

“But Japan will pose a different threat. They have a very astute coach
in Eddie Jones and our players who play in Japan have warned us to expect a
very high tempo game and good, low tackling to stop momentum.

“The players know that nothing but their best will be good enough on Saturday
and we realise the importance of starting the World Cup on a good note, but
having said that, we also know that there is no such thing as an easy game in
rugby anymore and they will be just as fired up as us.

“Decision-making will be key on Saturday and it’s up the players
to know when and how to vary our play. We can play tactically if we have to,
but we can also attack with ball in hand and I’d like to see a good blend
of that this weekend. “

South Africa

Position/Name/Test Caps/Test points
15. Zane Kirchner, (30 caps; 25 points)
14. Lwazi Mvovo, (13 caps; 20 points)
13. Jesse Kriel, (4 caps; 10 points)
12. Jean de Villiers (captain), (107 caps; 135 points)
11. Bryan Habana, (110 caps; 295 points)
10. Pat Lambie, (44 caps; 122 points)
9. Ruan Pienaar, Ulster (84 caps; 135 points)
8. Schalk Burger, (79 caps; 70 points)
7. Willem Alberts, (33 caps; 35 points)
6. Francois Louw, (36 caps; 25 points)
5. Victor Matfield (vice-captain), (123 caps; 35 points)
4. Lood de Jager, (12 caps; 15 points)
3. Jannie du Plessis, (64 caps; 5 points)
2. Bismarck du Plessis, (73 caps; 45 points)
1. Tendai Mtawarira, (68 caps; 10 points)
16. Adriaan Strauss, (48 caps; 25 points)
17. Trevor Nyakane, (16 caps; 5 points)
18. Coenie Oosthuizen, (21 caps;15 points)
19. Pieter-Steph du Toit, (4 caps; 0 points)
20. Siya Kolisi, (11 caps; 0 points)
21. Fourie du Preez, (70 caps; 75 points)
22. Handré Pollard, (13 caps; 95 points)
23. JP Pietersen, (60 caps; 90 points)

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