Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer named the same starting line-up that beat New Zealand a month ago to face Ireland in the opening Test of the Outgoing Tour on Dublin on Saturday. The only change to the match-day squad is at replacement prop, where the injured Marcel van der Merwe is replaced by Coenie Oosthuizen.
“Although Julian Redelinghuys was also considered, he’s still new in the team and not familiar with our patterns of play and especially the line-out calls, while Coenie knows the way we play well,” said Meyer.
“Coenie is also in great shape and we know what he can do, especially if he has to make an impact off the bench. It’s good to have him back.” Meyer was very happy with the continuity in selection from the last Test.
“It’s only the fifth time in what will be the 34th Test since I was appointed as Springbok coach that we’ve been able to select an unchanged starting line-up,” said Meyer.
“In this day and age, not making changes to teams is pretty much unheard of, but this is a great position we’re in. However, we need to make it count against a very tough Irish side on Saturday.
“Although we won our last Test, the challenge this week is to make another step up. It’s imperative that we improve in all facets of our play.”
For Ireland, there is one new cap in the matchday 23, with Ulster’s Jared Payne set to make his Ireland debut alongside Robbie Henshaw in an exciting new centre partnership.
Paul O’Connell captains the side and is joined in the engine room by Devin Toner, with the Limerick man’s 95th cap seeing him become Ireland’s most-capped second row.
The back row is made up of Jamie Heaslip, Chris Henry and Peter O’Mahony, while the front row sees Jack McGrath and Mike Ross pack down either side of their provincial team-mate Sean Cronin.
Conor Murray and Jonathan Sexton are reunited at half-back and Tommy Bowe returns to the back-three for the first time since last year. He lines out alongside Simon Zebo and full-back Rob Kearney.
There is plenty of impact on the bench with Richardt Strauss, Dave Kilcoyne, Rodney Ah You, Mike McCarthy and Rhys Ruddock providing cover for the pack and Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan and Felix Jones covering the outfield.
Ireland – 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Jonny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 Paul O’Connell, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath. Subs: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 David Kilcoyne, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Mike McCarthy, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Felix Jones
Springboks – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira. Subs: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Bakkies Botha, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 JP Pietersen.