Wasps-based Willie le Roux’s Test match experience and knowledge of the English opposition will see him start ahead of Warrick Gelant in Saturday’s series opener in Johannesburg. But veteran World Cup-winning hooker Bismarck du Plessis and centre Frans Steyn won’t be considered for selection until the second Test in Bloemfontein.
Du Plessis and Steyn played for Montpellier in last Saturday’s Top 14 final defeat to Castres. The duo only arrived in South Africa on Monday to join the squad and Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus said it was unfair on the duo to expect them to slot straight into a Test match. He also said it would be disruptive to the side that had been preparing together for the last week.
Stormers hooker Bongi Mbonambi is likely to start and one of Mahlatse ”Chiliboy” Ralepelle or Akker van der Merwe will provide back-up. The latter two were involved in the 22-20 defeat against Wales.
The Springboks first choice hooker Malcolm Marx is injured and won’t play in the series at all.
Le Roux has been brilliant for Wasps all season and he will be one of four foreign-based players in the starting line-up. The others expected to be on the field from the outset include Sale scrumhalf Faf de Klerk, No 8 Duane Vermeulen, who had played for Toulon for the last three seasons. Indications are that Erasmus will cap three new players in Bulls lock RG Snyman, Lions wing Aphiwe Dyantyi and Sharks wing S’bu Nkosi.
Erasmus will also start with Lukhanyo Am at outside centre. AM has three minutes of Test experience against Wales in the last Test of 2017.
Erasmus blooded 13 new players (seven to start and six from the bench) in the 22-20 defeat against Wales in Washington DC.
Boks to play England (probable starting XV): Willie le Roux, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, S’bu Nkosi, Handré Pollard, Faf de Klerk, Duane Vermeulen, Jean-Luc du Preez, Siya Kolisi (capt), Franco Mostert, RG Snyman, Trevor Nyakane, Bongi Mbonambi, Beast Mtawarira