Jean de Villiers is Jake White’s shock choice to captain the Springbok XV against the World XV on Saturday.
Announcing the team in Bloemfontein on Tuesday, White surprised the gathered media by naming the talented inside centre to lead the team for the festival match.
De Villiers has 20 Test caps (and 11 tries) to his name and is considered by many to be one of the most naturally gifted players in the country. He has obviously, at 25-years-old, got a long career ahead of him.
This elevation could be the beginning of his apprenticeship to eventually taking over from Smit full-time in the next few years.
De Villiers was not considered by any for the position in speculations in the past week. After it was vacated by the injured John Smit, AJ Venter, Wikus van Heerden and Victor Matfield were expected to carry the torch.
Both Venter and Van Heerden are included in the squad and were considered the only candidates in the race, after Victor Matfield dropped out because of injury last week.
The squad of 23 includes three players who have not previously played for the Boks – lock Johann Muller, scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar and centre Wynand Olivier – all on the bench.
Wayne Julies will travel with the squad to Johannesburg as cover, while the rest of White’s charges will remain in Bloemfontein to continue preparing for the first Test against Scotland in Durban on June 10.
After white toyed with the idea of fielding a young and inexperienced line-up, he has actually chosen a team full of experience for a match that will help map the way forward in an extremely congested international season.
Certain combinations will be tested against a World XV that arrived on Tuesday morning vowing not to just make up the numbers.
The match 22 is extremely experienced with a combined 400 Test caps behind them, while the starting XV has 345 caps, broken down to 150 among the forwards and 195 in the backline.
Springbok XV versus the World XV:
1. Deon Carstens
2. Hanyani Shimange
3. Eddie Andrews
4. Danie Rossouw
5. Albert van den Berg
6. Wikus van Heerden
7. AJ Venter
8. Joe van Niekerk
9. Ricky Januarie
10. Jaco van der Westhuyzen
11. Gaffie du Toit
12. Jean de Villiers (captain)
13. Jaque Fourie
14. Andre Snyman
15. Percy Montgomery
16. Gary Botha
17. Lawrence Sephaka
18. Johann Muller
19. Pedrie Wannenburg
20. Ruan Pienaar
21. Wynand Olivier
22. Brent Russell
23. Wayne Julies
By Andrew Hollely