The Rugby Championship gets into full swing this weekend with two fixtures on two continents. Over in Australia, the Wallabies face New Zealand at the ANZ Stadium at 12:00 South African time, but all eyes will be fixed on Port Elizabeth when the Springboks kick off their campaign against Argentina.
The Boks had a woeful 2016, but started off the 2017 season with a clean sweep over France. But, in order to ensure they send a strong message that their revival is in full swing, the Boks will need a convincing win on Saturday to make it so.
Pundits seem chipperly optimistic about South Africa’s chances. Most scribes note how the upcoming few months will be critical to the attacking development plan the Boks put in place during last year’s “indaba”. Some even went so far as to call the upcoming games “exciting”.
It’s hard to disagree. The Boks – and coach Allister Coetzee – have a point to prove and these are the players he has chosen to try and prove it with.
Rugby championships teams
Starting XV: 15. Andries Coetzee, 14. Raymond Rhule, 13. Jesse Kriel, 12. Jan Serfontein, 11. Courtnall Skosan, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Ross Cronje, 8. Uzair Cassiem, 7. Jaco Kriel, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5. Franco Mostert, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Coenie Oosthuizen, 2. Malcolm Marx, 1. Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16. Bongi Mbonambi, 17. Steven Kitshoff, 18. Trevor Nyakane, 19. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20. Jean-Luc du Preez, 21. Francois Hougaard, 22. Curwin Bosch, 23. Damian de Allende
Kick off time
Kick off is at 17:05 South African time.
South Africa’s record at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
The Springboks have never lost a game at the venue. Since the stadium was first built for the FIFA World Cup, the Boks have played there four times, against some quality opposition. South Africa have beaten New Zealand, Scotland, and Ireland at the stadium and scraped a draw against England.
2011: SA 18-5 NZ
2012: SA 14-14 England
2014: SA 55-6 Scotland
2016: SA 19-13 Ireland
Where to watch
SuperSport 1 will have all the live action and build up from 16:00 (subscription required).
Stats and milestones
- Tendai Mtawarira will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok prop to 91 caps in this position. He is the third most experienced Springbok forward behind Victor Matfield and John Smit.
- Mtawarira will also play in his 40th Rugby Championship Test match, which ranks him fourth behind Bryan Habana (53), Jean de Villiers (50) and Victor Matfield (48).
- The following players will make their Rugby Championship debuts: Uzair Cassiem, Andries Coetzee, Ross Cronjé, Raymond Rhule and Courtnall Skosan. It will also be the first games for Jean-Luc du Preez and Curwin Bosch should they come off the bench.
- Bosch will become Springbok #887 if he runs onto the field as a replacement.