SOUTH AFRICA have delivered a demonstration of their self-belief ahead of opening their World Cup campaign against Scotland on Sunday night by bringing their team announcement forward by two days. The selection was scheduled to be announced on Friday morning but ended up being revealed on Wednesday evening at 6pm UK time, suggesting that the world champions do not feel the need to keep their opponents guessing until the last minute.
Head coach Jacques Nienaber has handed scrum-half Faf de Klerk his 50th cap in a settled Springbok side which contains 11 players who started in the record win over New Zealand in their final warm-up match two weekends ago.
The only change in the pack is at No 8, where Jasper Wiese takes over from Duane Vermeulen, who moves to the bench, which has the familiar six-two split between forwards and backs. The changes in the backline see Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel unite in midfield, and Cheslin Kolbe return on the left wing in place of Makazole Mapimpi.
Two players, utility back Canan Moodie and lock Jean Kleyn, were not considered for selection due to hamstring and knee niggles respectively.
“We are pleased with the squad depth we have built in the last few months, and we believe this group of players strikes the right balance to achieve the result we need against Scotland,” said Nienaber.
“We are very excited about this occasion. We’ve been building for this World Cup for the last four years and we are thrilled to get our campaign started.
“We’ve been working hard in the last few weeks to make sure we are as prepared as possible going into this match and we are fully aware of the challenge that awaits us.”
“Earning 50 Test caps is a massive achievement and to mark that feat in the opening game of the Rugby World Cup makes it very special,” he added. “Faf has been a key member of our team for a few years, so we are delighted for him. Needless to say, we’re all focused on making sure it’s a memorable occasion for him and the rest of us.”
South Africa (versus Scotland on Sunday @ Stade de Marseill, kick-off 4.45pm): D Willemse; K Arendse, J Kriel, D de Allende, C Kolbe; M Libbok. F de Klerk; S Kitshoff, M Marx, F Malherbe, E Etzbetn, F Mosert, S Kolisi ©, P du Toit, J Weise. Substitutes: B Mbonami, O Nche, T Nyakane, R Snyman, M van Staden, D Vermeulen, G Williams, W Le Roux.