Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies will start his 10th successive Test of 2017 against an Irish team characterised by Kiwi centre Bundee Aki’s Test debut.
The whispers that Handre Pollard would replace Jantjies as the starting No 10 proved without foundation and Pollard, who has enjoyed just 30 minutes of Test rugby in 2017, is among the substitutes.
Damian de Allende replaces the unavailable Jan Serfontein at inside centre and South Africa’s most experienced prop Beast Mtawarira is picked ahead of Steven Kitshoff after being unavailable for the Test against the All Blacks in Cape Town.
Coenie Oosthuizen, out injured against the All Blacks, is also preferred at tighthead to the young and imposing Wilco Louw.
‘They beat us here in 2014 and with an experienced coaching team and world class players, they are rightfully considered as the favourites. They are also one of a few teams in the last five years that managed to beat the All Blacks,’ said Springbok coach Allister Coetzee.
The Boks in 2017 have won five, drawn two and lost two of the nine starts and are without a win since beating the Pumas in Salta in the Rugby Championship.
Coetzee’s Test record is nine wins from 21 over the last 18 months and his only victory in nine overseas matches was in Salta this year against the Pumas.
Aki, having qualified under the Irish residency rule in October, won the Super Rugby title with the Chiefs in 2013.
Ireland’s New Zealand coach Joe Schmidt defended his selection of Aki: ‘Sometimes where you are born is less relevant than where you have invested over recent years and Bundee has done that in the west for Connacht.
‘He has played immense amount of rugby for them. I think it (the debate over selection) is an immense distraction and I feel sorry for Bundee and hope he isn’t distracted by that.’
15 Rob Kearney; 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale; 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray; 8 CJ Stander, 7 Sean O’Brien, 6 Peter O’Mahony; 5 Devin Toner, 4 Iain Henderson; 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory Best (captain), 1 Cian Healy
Substitutes: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 John Ryan, 19 James Ryan, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Darren Sweetnam
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Francois Louw, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6, Siya Kolisi, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3 Coenie Oosthuizen 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi , 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Uzair Cassiem, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Handre Pollard, 23 Francois Venter