International Rugby, Springboks

Pieter-Steph back to lock as Duane plays 7

Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus will start Duane Vermeulen at No 7 against England, with the form No 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit switching to lock. Warren Whiteley plays No 8.

Vermeulen’s inaugural selection as a test flank, with captain Siya Kolisi on the other and Whiteley at the back of the scrum makes for a loose trio never tested before.

Erasmus, interestingly, has also opted for two locks (in RG Snyman and Lood De Jager) on the bench, leading one to believe that Du Toit will shift back to the blindside in the latter part of the match.

The established front row of Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx and Steven Kitshoff remains, however there are 7 changes to the starting XV that took on the All Blacks in the final game of the Rugby Championship.

Damian Willemse starts at fullback ahead of the unavailable Willie le Roux and Ivan van Zyl starts at No 9 because of Faf de Klerk’s unavailability. None of the foreign-based players are available as the Test falls outside of the international window. The club is not required to release the player, which meant the likes of Le Roux, De Klerk and Franco Mostert could not be considered.

The Japanese clubs agreed to Erasmus’s request for Vermeulen to play.

Springboks – 15 Damian Willemse, 14 S’bu Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Lood de Jager, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 André Esterhuizen.

– The total Test caps for the Springbok starting lineup is 415. There are 122 in the backline and 293 among the forwards, with a further 120 on the bench.

– The average caps per player in the backline is 17, the forwards 37 and those on the bench 15. The average age of the starting XV is 26 years.

– Eben Etzebeth is the most experienced player in the squad and the most capped player in the team against England with six appearances against them.

– Malcolm Marx and Damian Willemse are the only two players who have never played in a Test against England.

– Handré Pollard needs seven points to reach 300 career points for South Africa.

– South Africa’s overall record against England is: P: 41; W: 25; L: 14; D: 2; PF: 876; PA: 705; TF: 82; TA: 54; Average score: 21-17. Win%: 61%.

– South Africa’s biggest win against England (48 points) was in 2007 in Bloemfontein when they ran in seven tries to register a 58-10 win.

– The Springboks’ biggest loss to England was in 2002 at Twickenham when the home team ran out winners 53-3. On that occasion, Jannes Labuschagne was red-carded in the 23rd minute for a late tackle on Jonny Wilkinson.

– The first Test at Twickenham took place on 15 January 1910 when England hosted Wales before a crowd of 18,000. At the time the seating capacity was 20,000.

– Today, Twickenham is the largest dedicated rugby union stadium in the world, with a seating capacity of 82,000.

– The first Springbok Test against England on this ground was on 4 January 1913. The Boks won 9-3 in front of 29,000 spectators.

– South Africa have played in 20 Tests against England at Twickenham. The record is: P: 20; W: 11; L: 9; PF: 335; PA: 361; TF: 32; TA: 33; Average score: 17-18; Win%: 55%.

– The top Springbok scorers against England at Twickenham are Pat Lambie (36 points), Chester Williams, Willem Alberts and Bryan Habana (two tries each), Lambie (eight penalty goals) and André Pretorius (four drop goals).

– The match records are held by André Pretorius (20 points and four drop goals), Chester Williams (two tries), and Braam van Straaten (four penalty goals).

– The referee is Australian Angus Gardner. He has refereed in 17 Tests, five of which involving South Africa, with the Boks winning two.

– The two assistant referees are Jérôme Garcès (France) and Ben Whitehouse (Wales), while Irishman Olly Hodges is the TMO.

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