The Springboks will host Italy at Kings Park, Durban, on Saturday, 8 June 2013, and there will be no illusions that the Italians will pose a threat coming off some good performances in the 2013 Six Nations Championships.
The Azzurri have made seven changes from the team that last played in March in the Six Nations match that took place in Rome.
A new debutant, Alberto Di Bernardo, has been given the nod to start at flyhalf. The 33-year old has had some strong performances in France and Italy over the past few seasons, with his long-ranged goal-kicking being a strength of his game.
Di Bernardo will pair with Edoardo Gori at scrumhalf, who has some great experience in the number 9 jersey and will prove a good test for Jano Vermaak.
The Springboks named 5 changes in the side that last played; the two main additions being Willie le Roux and Jano Vermaak, who will don the number 15 and 9 jerseys respectively.
Willie le Roux is expected to be given free rein to play his natural free-flowing game, so expect to see him move into first-receiver if Steyn is tied up.
Trevor Nyakane (prop), Arno Botha (loose forward) and Jan Serfontein (centre) are all on the bench, and will potentially gain their first caps at some point throughout the game.
JJ Engelbrecht is another rookie named in the starting lineup in outside-centre, and has been in great form as of late. Engelbrecht should find himself in space and will be used to stretch the defence wide, particularly with Jean de Villiers’ straight running lines.
Rugby Informer’s take: the Italians should never be underestimated, especially at scrum-time, and could surprise the South Africa with some quality players who’ve developed over the last season; however, the Springboks’ exciting new backline should have the upper-hand if they’re able to get the ball wide quickly. Springboks by 15.
Springboks: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Arno Botha, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein.
Italy: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Giovanbattista Venditti, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Luke McLean, 10 Alberto di Bernardo, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse (captain), 7 Robert Barbieri, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Antonio Pavanello, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Alberto de Marchi.
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni, 19 Valerio Bernabo’, 20 Joshua Furno, 21 Tobias Botes, 22 Luciano Orquera, 23 Tommaso Iannone.