Willie at 15, 2 looseheads on bench

Five uncapped players, one of them Willie le Roux, have made the Boks side to Italy on Saturday. There is no space for specialist tighthead Lourens Adriaanse on the bench.

Willie le Roux (fullback) and Jano Vermaak (scrumhalf) will earn their Springbok debuts in the starting team, while the trio of uncapped players on the bench are Trevor Nyakane (prop), Arno Botha (loose forward) and Jan Serfontein (centre).

Stalwarts Bryan Habana (wing), Pierre Spies (No 8) and Tendai Mtawarira (prop), who missed the tour last November because of injury and health issues, are back in the starting team.

JJ Engelbrecht (centre) will start his first Test at outside centre and Bjorn Basson (wing) will earn his seventh cap after last playing for the Springboks in 2011.

On the bench, Chiliboy Ralepelle (hooker), who also struggled with injuries last year, is back in the Test match day squad. He will feature in his 22nd Test if he gets game time on Saturday.

Ten players who played in the Springboks’ last Test of 2012, a 16-15 win over England at Twickenham, have been included in the match-23 for Saturday. They are Jean de Villiers, who is also the captain, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw, Juandré Kruger, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Flip van der Merwe, Ruan Pienaar and Pat Lambie.

“This was not an easy team to select as I’ve been very impressed with the attitude shown by the players in training this week,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Wednesday.

“I’m very happy that we’ve managed to retain the core of the team from last year for the sake of continuity, but it’s also great to see a bunch of new players emerge from Super Rugby.

“Upfront we’ve managed to keep six of the eight who started against England and at the back there are a number of very exciting players who have earned their places in the team. I’m very excited to see what this new-look backline can do.

Commenting on Saturday’s Test, the first against Italy in almost three years, Meyer said: “In the past they have been regarded as one of the lesser Test nations, but that is no longer the case. Just look at their performances in the Six Nations this year – they beat Ireland and France in Rome and just lost to England in London.

“They have always been exceptionally strong upfront and will test us, especially at scrum time. But they also have some superb backs and are very well led by Sergio Parisse, so we know this will not be a walk in the park.”

The Springbok Test against Italy kicks off at 17h15, after the match between Scotland and Samoa, which starts at 14h15.

The Springbok team to face Italy in Durban (with caps) is:

15 Willie le Roux – 0
14 Bryan Habana – 83
13 JJ Engelbrecht – 1
12 Jean de Villiers (captain) – 84
11 Bjorn Basson – 6
10 Morné Steyn – 42
9 Jano Vermaak – 0
8 Pierre Spies – 50
7 Willem Alberts – 20
6 Francois Louw – 17
5 Juandré Kruger – 8
4 Eben Etzebeth – 11
3 Jannie du Plessis – 42
2 Adriaan Strauss (vice-captain) – 21
1 Tendai Mtawarira – 41


16 Chiliboy Ralepelle – 21
17 Trevor Nyakane – 0
18 Coenie Oosthuizen – 2
19 Flip van der Merwe – 23
20 Arno Botha – 0
21 Ruan Pienaar – 63
22 Pat Lambie – 20
23 Jan Serfontein – 0


  1. Even without Robert Ebersohn, we have such amazing depth at centre. Great team!

    1. It is a bloody strong side. Obvious concern is if Jannie goes down early and Coenie has to play tighthead for a long time. And how that centre pairing will shape up. JJ has been excellent outside Serfontein. Same with de Villiers?

      But it is Italy at home after a very long season for them … The Kings would give them a go …

  2. I would have left Jean De V out of these tests. He is carrying an injury and has played so much rugby. We have more than enough leadership in the side with Strauss and Spies. I would have gone with the youngsters at centre with R Ebersohn on the bench – he can play both 12 and 13.

  3. Great team. one can never be satisified with any bok team, so its an excellent attempt.

    if theres not to much threat in the midfield Jean should be subbed early. wouldve loved to have seen an ebersohn serfontein combo.

    Arno botha/ siya kolisi – couldve gone either way

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