Mbonambi and Du Toit to start against Italy
- Four changes to match-23
- Uncapped Warrick Gelant on the bench
Bongi Mbonambi will make his first start for the Springboks against Italy in Padova, while Pieter-Steph du Toit returns to the starting team for Saturday’s third Test in the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour.
Furthermore, the uncapped Warrick Gelant has been included on the bench and will make his Springbok debut should he go onto the field of play during the match.
The Springbok management decided not to risk Malcolm Marx for this weekend’s match, following the shoulder injury he sustained last week against France. This means Mbonambi, who has 12 Test caps to his name, will earn his first start on Saturday. Chiliboy Ralepelle will join Gelant on the bench.
Du Toit is fit again and picked at flank, where he replaces Siya Kolisi, who is not available for this match because of the birth of his second child. The versatile Du Toit suffered concussion two weeks ago against Ireland and as a result he missed the Springbok victory over France in Paris.
The rest of the team that edged the French in the Stade de France in the previous outing is retained.
“We decided not to risk Malcolm, which means Bongi will get a well-deserved first start in the No 2 jersey,” said Springbok coach Allister Coetzee.
“Bongi has worked hard and I have no doubt he will grab this opportunity with both hands, as will Chiliboy, should he get a run.
“Warrick is in good form and his work-rate during training has been impressive. I know he will add value and I am very excited for the possibility of seeing him in action.”
Coetzee said the Italians will pose a difficult challenge at home: “We respect the Italian side, they are well coached and I know they will be up for the challenge. However, we focus on ourselves and a disciplined and clinical performance is what is needed this weekend.
“It would be important for our pack to again create a good platform of which to play from and therefore our set piece will be key in the expected wet conditions,” said Coetzee.
Eben Etzebeth will again lead the Springboks after the big lock has shrugged off a lower leg injury, which he suffered in Paris.
The Springbok team to play against Italy in Padova:
- Andries Coetzee, Emirates Lions – 11 caps, 0 points
- Dillyn Leyds, DHL Stormers – 7 caps, 5 points (1 try)
- Jesse Kriel, Vodacom Bulls – 27 caps, 35 points (7 tries)
- Francois Venter, Toyota Cheetahs – 5 caps, 0 points
- Courtnall Skosan, Emirates Lions – 11 caps, 10 points (2 tries)
- Handré Pollard, Vodacom Bulls – 24 caps, 198 points (2 tries, 31 con, 39 penalties, 3 drops goals)
- Ross Cronje, Emirates Lions – 8 caps, 10 points (1 tries)
- Duane Vermeulen, Toulon (France) – 38 caps, 10 points (2 tries)
- Pieter-Steph du Toit, DHL Stormers – 30 caps, 20 points (4 tries)
- Francois Louw, Bath (England) – 56 caps, 40 points (8 tries)
- Lood de Jager, Vodacom Bulls – 34 caps, 20 points (4 tries)
- Eben Etzebeth (captain), DHL Stormers – 65 caps, 15 points (3 tries)
- Wilco Louw, DHL Stormers – 3 caps, 0 points
- Bongi Mbonambi, DHL Stormers – 12 caps, 0 points
- Tendai Mtawarira, Cell C Sharks – 97 caps, 10 points (2 tries)
- Chiliboy Ralepelle, Cell C Sharks – 22 caps, 0 points
- Steven Kitshoff, DHL Stormers – 21 caps, 0 points
- Trevor Nyakane, Vodacom Bulls – 35 caps, 5 points (1 try)
- Franco Mostert, Emirates Lions/Ricoh Black Rams (Japan) – 17 caps, 0 points
- Dan du Preez, Cell C Sharks – 1 cap, 0 points
- Rudy Paige, Vodacom Bulls – 12 caps, 5 points (1 try)
- Elton Jantjies, Emirates Lions/NTT Shining Arcs (Japan) – 21 caps, 201 points (2 tries, 37 conversions, 39 penalties)
- Warrick Gelant, Vodacom Bulls – 0 caps, 0 points
Stats and facts:
- Padova is situated in northern Italy, approximately 40 kilometers west of Venice. Stadio Euganeo is a football stadium, but it is also used for concerts, rugby league, rugby union and athletics and has a seating capacity is 32 420.
- Previously, South Africa played one Test match against Italy at this stadium, when they beat Italy by 22-6 on 22 November, 2014.
- Five Springboks of the current squad played in that Test – Duane Vermeulen, Eben Etzebeth, Trevor Nyakane, Handré Pollard and Lood de Jager.
- South Africa’s overall record against Italy: P: 13; W: 12; L: 1; PF: 617; PA: 165; TF: 84; TA: 14; Average score: 47-13. Win%: 92%.
- South Africa scored 101 points against Italy in 1999 at Kings Park, Durban, their third highest score in a Test match by the Springboks. On that day they also set the second highest winning margin when Italy failed to score a point.
- Italy’s only win against South Africa was during last year when they lost 18-20 in Florence.
Number of caps:
- The total Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is 428. There are 93 caps in the backline with 335 caps amongst the forwards and a further 129 caps on the bench.
- The average caps per player in the backline are 13, the forwards 42 while the players on the bench average 16.
- The average age of the starting 15 is 26.
Records and milestones:
- Tendai Mtawarira will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok prop to 98 caps in this position. He is the third most experienced Springbok forward, behind Victor Matfield and John Smit.
- Eben Etzebeth will play in his 10th Test match as Captain.
- Handré Pollard needs two points to reach 200 points in Tests for South Africa.
- Warrick Gelant could make his Springbok debut should he be used as a substitute. His Springbok number will then be #890.
- Should Chiliboy Ralepelle be used from the bench, it will be his first appearance in a Test match since June 2013.
- Four players will play in their 12th consecutive Test match of the season – Andries Coetzee, Courtnall Skosan, Eben Etzebeth and Steven Kitshoff, should he be used as a substitute.