Pietersen boost for Boks

JP Pietersen has been named to start for the Springboks despite having to undergo a late fitness test, while Elton Jantjies has been included on the bench.

Pietersen was initially expected to miss the clash against England at Twickenham, but his groin injury has responded well to treatment, although he will have to prove he is completely recovered on Friday before he is cleared. Prop Gurthro Steenkamp also struggled with a leg ailment at the beginning of the week, but will start.

‘It’s great to be able to field an unchanged team,’ said Bok coach Heyneke Meyer. ‘We’ve been able to show some consistency in selection on this tour and that is a good thing.

‘The players have worked extremely hard on the training field and it wasn’t easy to select the match 23 for each of the three Tests, but I’m happy that we managed to stick to combinations.’

Jantjies is included on the bench for the first time on this tour, replacing Morné Steyn. The injury to reserve prop CJ van der Linde also sees Pat Cilliers promoted to the match 23.

‘The plan was always to give Elton a run on the tour,’ said Meyer. ‘He’s shown earlier in the season that he can play Test rugby. It’s also good for his development as a player to experience the conditions here and to play in front of a big crowd like Twickenham.’

Meyer said the demands of a long season were obvious when looking at the team.

‘It’s been a long season, with most of the guys carrying knocks and not able to train. The challenge is to get up for it mentally first and foremost and then bring the physicality,’ he said.

‘I am worried. I can see that mentally it’s been a long season. Having said that, I know this team and they’re warriors who want to win for their country and the guys next to them.’

The English media has demanded an elevated level of physicality from what they deemed a poor showing in their defeat against Australia. Meyer said he was braced for an immense challenge in that regard.

‘As a South African looking back, I didn’t think England teams were particularly tough. My coaching stint in Leicester, working with guys like Lewis Moody and Martin Corry, who are probably the toughest guys I’ve coached, changed that perception completely,’ he said.

‘Our guys know that they had the edge in South Africa physically because it was at the end of the northern hemisphere season. Now we’re here at the end of ours and they are fresh and we need to toughen up. Maybe in a sense they underestimated the Wallabies, but they will be up for South Africa.’

Springboks – 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Gürthro Steenkamp.
Subs: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Heinke van der Merwe, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Jaco Taute, 23 Lwazi Mvovo.