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Springboks

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Heyneke Meyer & Jean de Villiers

Heyneke Meyer & Jean de Villiers

Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks and Lwazi Mvovo are back in the Springbok starting line-up for Saturday’s Test against Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

The changes in the back three were required because Johan Goosen, Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen, who started in last weekend’s victory over Italy in Padova, are not available this week. The two changes to the front row are rotational.

Adriaan Strauss, who started at hooker in the victories over England and Italy, moves to the bench, where he will be joined by Trevor Nyakane and Damian de Allende in the only other changes to the match-23.

“This tour has been a good test of our depth and we’re looking forward to see what the team can do on Saturday,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

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Shaun Edwards

Shaun Edwards

Welsh defensive coach Shaun Edwards has bad memories of what Willie le Roux did to them in June and is wary of the Springboks’ threats.

South Africa managed two victories over the Welsh back in June, with a tight one-point win in Nelspruit proving to be a heartbreaking one for Wales.

Springbok fullback Willie le Roux was instrumental as an attacking threat in both those games and was seen to terrorize the Welsh defence.

For Edwards, a watchful eye will be kept on Le Roux, but he is not fooling himself into believing that the wylie fullback will be the only threat.

“They have got intelligent players, they’ve got a constructive kicking game as well,” the coach said.

They’ve got an outstanding fullback in Willie le Roux, who was the main torturer for us throughout the June Tests.

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WalesWales will be able to call on their French-based stars for Saturday’s Test against the Springboks at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

The match falls outside of World Rugby’s Test window, which means clubs are not obliged to release their overseas-based players for internationals.

For this reason, the Springboks will not be able to call on the likes of Bryan Habana (Toulon, France) JP Pietersen (Panasonic Wild Knights, Japan), Schalk Burger (Suntory Sungoliath, Japan), Johan Goosen (Racing Metro, France), Jano Vermaak (Toulouse, France), Gurthro Steenkamp (Toulouse, France) and Morne Steyn (Stade Francais, France).

However, it appears Wales will be able to call on some key overseas players.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Twelve months ago the Springbok talent cupboard looked bare – with a dearth of back-up in several key positions.

Now, less than 10 months out from the start of the World Cup, South African coach Heyneke Meyer believes he has ‘plugged all the gaps’.

Speaking after his team’s hard-earned 22-6 win over Italy in Padua at the weekend, Meyer said he is “very happy” with the state of the Boks’ player resources.

Tighthead prop and fullback were among the two positions where depth was a major concern, but the added bonus of Nizaam Carr’s outstanding debut means Meyer’s already well-stocked loose forward resources have an additional arrow in the quiver.

“I said Nizaam was running great lines in training (last week),” Meyer told a media scrum.

“The test was to take that into a Test match where there isn’t a lot of space and he came through with flying colours.”

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Jannie du Plessis

Jannie du Plessis

Warren Whiteley

Warren Whiteley

Springbok prop Jannie du Plessis has not recovered from a hamstring injury and will miss their final tour game against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.

Du Plessis sustained the injury against England at Twickenham on 15 November and missed this past weekend’s game against Italy in Padua (Padova).

He was expected to be back for the Wales Test, but needs more time on the sidelines.

Warren Whiteley picked up a calf injury during training recently and also has not recovered sufficiently to play in the final Test against Wales on Saturday.

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CricketA selection of Springboks will take on the Proteas in a T20 match at the Wanderers stadium in Johannesburg on 5 December for the Nelson Mandela Legacy Cup.

National captain Jean de Villiers and vice-captain Victor Matfield have both been included in the star-studded Springbok T20 cricket team.

Matfield scored 23 runs from 23 balls and hit four fours against the Proteas in Cape Town earlier this year.

The two Springbok centurions will be joined by Willem Alberts, who took two wickets in as many balls at Newlands, as well as Willie le Roux, who scored 16 from eight balls including a big six.

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John Philip "Bakkies" Botha

John Philip “Bakkies” Botha

John Philip “Bakkies” Botha, born 22 September 1979 in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal has had a glittering international career that drew to a close on 22 November 2014.

He will continue to play for his French Club Toulon and has even hinted at retiring in South Africa with the Currie Cup.

In his professional career Botha has won everything there is to win.

With the Blue Bulls he won the Vodacom Cup in 2001 and then went on to add three Currie Cup titles to his name in 2002, 2004 and 2009.

With the Bulls in Super Rugby, Botha was part of the first South African team to lift the trophy in 2007 (in the professional era – with Transvaal winning the Super 10 in 1993), and then again in 2009 and 2010.

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AustraliaAustralia have slipped another place to fifth in the latest World Rugby Rankings with France, Japan, Tonga, Canada and Namibia also falling after defeats.

Australia’s 26-23 loss to Ireland on Saturday has seen the Wallabies slip another place to fifth – equalling their lowest ever position since the World Rugby Rankings were introduced in October 2003.

The Wallabies headed into the match in Dublin sitting just one hundredth of a rating point above England, but will now travel to Twickenham to face Stuart Lancaster’s men this weekend behind two northern hemisphere nations with Ireland strengthening their hold on third place with the win.

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Special EditionThe starting side who did duty for the Springboks on Saturday as well as one replacement, have all left the Springboks to return to their respective Clubs in France and Japan.

  • Johan Goosen returns to Racing Metro in France
  • Bryan Habana returns to Toulon
  • JP Pietersen returns to the Panasonic Wild Knights
  • On the Springbok bench, Gurthrö Steenkamp returns to Toulouse in France

Of course Bakkies Botha has now retired from International Rugby and accordingly also leaves for Toulon, whilst Morné Steyn (who was not used on Tour) returns to Stade Français.

Schalk Burger joins his Japanes Club, Suntory Sungoliath.

This leads us to the burning question as to the composition and changes in the Springbok run-on team and 23-man squad for Saturday’s encounter with Wales, who held a lead over the All Blacks till the 69th minute, this past Saturday, before conceding a blitz of 3 tries, which blew the score against them out of proportion.

Mind you, one more Springbok tourist is also leaving the squad, thus unavailable for selection, namely Seabelo Senatla, who was released to the Springbok Sevens squad (or Blitzbokke as they are affectionately referred to) for the 2 remaining HSBC Sevens World Series Tournaments in 2014… the tournament in Dubai and the one in South Africa the week thereafter.

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Seabelo Senatla

Seabelo Senatla

Seabelo Senatla has been released from the Springbok touring squad at the request of the Springbok Sevens and will return to South Africa on Sunday.

Senatla will join the Blitzbokke as they prepare for the next two tournaments in the HSBC Sevens World Series, in Dubai and Port Elizabeth.

“We’ve got a very good relationship with Neil (Powell) and the Sevens, so we’re happy to help,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

“At this stage we won’t be calling up a replacement as we have enough cover at the back.

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SpringboksSpringbok coach Heyneke Meyer and national captain Jean de Villiers both lauded the performance by South Africa in their 22-6 (8-6 at half-time)victory over Italy in Padua (Padova) on Saturday afternoon.

The Springboks scored three tries to nil, with Coenie Oosthuizen, Cobus Reinach and Bryan Habana crossing the Italians’ try-line. Pat Lambie added a penalty goal to lift him to 100 Test points and Handré Pollard slotted two conversions.

It was the first time since June 2008 that the Springboks had managed to keep Italy from scoring a try and the first time ever the Azzurri failed to cross the South African try-line in a Test in front of their home fans.

“I’m very happy with the result and fact that we didn’t concede any tries and no points in the second half,” said Meyer. “I’ll always prefer a try-count of 3-0 instead of 5-3.”

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Bakkies Botha

Bakkies Botha

Heyneke Meyer & Jean de Villiers

Heyneke Meyer & Jean de Villiers

Heyneke Meyer paid tribute to Bakkies Botha, who announced his retirement from international rugby shortly after the Test.

“Bakkies will go down in history as one of the greatest Springboks of all time,” said Meyer of the 85-times capped lock forward. “He is a giant on the field and off it and never gave an inch, which personifies what Springbok rugby is all about.

“I’ve coached him for a very long time and while I’m immensely very proud of the player he’s become, I’m even more proud of the man Bakkies has become. I’ll forever be very proud of having been his coach.”

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Bakkies Botha

John Philip “Bakkies” Botha – The Springbok ENFORCER calls time on his International career.

Springbok lock and Rugby World Cup winner Bakkies Botha has announced his retirement from international rugby.

Botha, who made his Test debut on 9 November 2002 against France in Marseille, while his 85th and final appearance for South Africa was last Saturday, when he came on as a replacement in the 31-28 victory over England at Twickenham.

During a stellar career, the 35-year-old lock won the Rugby World Cup with the Springboks in 2007 and was victorious at almost every other level of the game.

He has winners’ medals from the Castle Lager Rugby Championship (Tri-Nations), British & Irish Lions Series, Vodacom Super Rugby, Absa Currie Cup and Vodacom Cup, as well as the Heineken Cup and French Top 14.

Botha is the seventh most-capped Springbok of all time, is a three-time SA Rugby Player of the Year nominee (2003, 2004 and 2005) and holds the world record for the most Tests as a lock combination in the starting line-up with Victor Matfield (63).

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Warren Gatland

Warren Gatland

Wales coach Warren Gatland’s record against the Southern Hemisphere giants of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa now stands at played 27, won one and lost 26 after a 16-34 defeat at the hands of the All Blacks.

That solitary win was against the Wallabies, 21-18, back in 2008, but Gatland insisted that his team did not lack self-belief against the SANZAR nations, praising New Zealand’s kicking game in a brutally entertaining match in Cardiff.

“It’s not a matter of belief. It’s sometimes just getting across the line and doing it, and the first time you do that, it’s easier the next time,” said Gatland.

“That’s a big thing for us, we get over that line and that’s what will create that belief and that composure to finish a game off.”

Gatland, himself a Kiwi who took charge of Wales after the 2007 World Cup, added of the “nearly-men” tag.

“It’s disappointing. You’ve got to keep working hard to try to rectify that in terms of critical moments when we’ve come under a bit of pressure.

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Gilbert Rugby BallOnly one more Internatonal Test to be played today, that between Georgia vs Japan at 17:00 SA Time and Georgian Time, the rest of the results are in already!

Some surprising results all around, with the Italian Azzurri holding the Springboks to a limited win, Ireland narrowly beating the Wallabies, Wales containing the All Blacks untill the 69th minute before letting in 3 quick tries and France falling to a spirited Argentinian Pumas side.

The rest of the results, well they are pure wall decorations, for want of a better expletive.

The Weekend’s International Results are as follows:

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South AfricaItalyThe Springboks played Italy in a Test for the first time in 1995 when they were reigning as World Champions. They won the match 40-21, and since then have played Italy 10 times.

The Springboks have won all 11 but then unusually for Northern Hemisphere teams, Italy have played more Tests against South Africa in South Africa rather than at home – seven in South Africa vs four at home. But those 11 matches were not the first rugby contacts between the two countries.

Rugby in Italy started to get organised in the late 1920’s. Before that it was a haphazard affair when wandering Brits and contact with France that had led to matches here and there. In the 1920’s it enjoyed the support of Benito Mussolini, dictator of Italy, a man who saw himself as the emperor of a new Roman Empire. As in imperial times, people enjoyed the blood sport of the amphitheatre, so in this new empire Il Duce would have rugby. Not that he had played the game as at 1,69 he would have been small even as a scrumhalf.

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Exodus

European clubs targeting Springboks to join their cash-flush clubs after next year’s Rugby World Cup will this time have more of a fight on their hands than before, after the South African Rugby Union’s (SARU) Springbok contracts are likely to be enforced with more vigour.

In recent days we’ve seen growing reports of Boks that may be heading overseas after the Rugby World Cup. This week it was Duane Vermeulen’s link with a French club and Bath – the latter willing to offer around R7.8-million a year for the IRB Player of the year nominee’s services.

Previously both Flip van der Merwe and Eben Etzebeth have been linked with moves overseas to French clubs while sources in France tell of Jannie and Bismarck du Plessis, Francois Hougaard, Willie le Roux and even Jan Serfontein being privately courted with offers to go overseas.

However, here is the catch. Those with Springbok contracts cannot enter into any negotiations with any club before 1 July 2015, leaving them a matter of 2 months to sort out their post-World Cup careers before the showpiece event takes place.

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Johan Goosen

Johan Goosen

Trevor Nyakane

Trevor Nyakane

Teboho Mahoje

Teboho Mahoje

Coenie Oosthuizen

Coenie Oosthuizen

The Springbok starting team to face Italy in Padova on Saturday shows four changes from the side which beat England at Twickenham last week, with three new faces amongst the pack and one in the backline.

There are also five changes on the bench, with Nizaam Carr and Julian Redelinghuys included in a Test match-23 for the first time.

Trevor Nyakane will start his first Test for South Africa at loosehead prop, while Coenie Oosthuizen moves up from the bench to replace the injured Jannie du Plessis at tighthead. Teboho ‘Oupa’ Mohoje returns to the starting line-up while Johan Goosen has been selected at fullback.

Joining Carr and Redelinghuys on the bench, are Gurthrö Steenkamp, Lood de Jager and Willie le Roux. Tendai Mtawarira has been given a break after carrying a heavy workload recently.

“I’m excited to see what these guys can do on Saturday in what will be a stern Test against a fired-up Italy,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

“We planned to make a few shifts for this Test as I’d like to see if these players can make the step up. The guys coming in deserve their opportunities and seeing that we won’t have our overseas-based players available next week against Wales, it made sense to bring a few of them in this week.”

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ItalyItaly coach Jacques Brunel has selected Fijian-born flank Samuela Vunisa in the only change to the team to face the Springboks on Saturday.

Vunisa, who has yet to play for Italy after being called into the squad for the November Tests, will replace Simone Favaro in the loose trio after the Treviso player suffered a sore neck in training.

In the only other notable switch, Leonardo Sarto has been pulled back to the right wing with Luke McLean going the other way to the left wing.

Italy beat Samoa 24-13 in their opening Test and despite last week’s 20-18 defeat to the Pumas, coach Jacques Brunel said he had seen enough to confirm the nucleus of his team for the Springboks, which he described as “the form team of the November series”.

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Rudy Paige

Rudy Paige

Marnitz Boshoff

Rudy Paige and Marnitz Boshoff have been called up to the Springbok squad for the last week of the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour in Cardiff next week.

Paige, from the Vodacom Blue Bulls and the Xerox Golden Lions’ Boshoff will join in the squad on Sunday to provide specialist cover at scrumhalf and flyhalf as the Springboks’ overseas-based players are not available for the last match of the season due to the fact that it falls outside the Test window.

“This means that Jano Vermaak, Morne Steyn and Johan Goosen are not available to face Wales, which is why we had to get in specialist cover at scrumhalf and flyhalf,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

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Francois Louw

Francois Louw

Francois Louw says he had been carrying “for years” an underlying neck problem that forced him to have surgery in September.

A pinched nerve caused by a slipped disk resulted in the 34-cap Springbok having an operation on 22 September.

The injury has forced the flank to miss the year-end internationals and Louw is still unable to put a firm date on his return for club side Bath, although he says a December “would be fantastic”.

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Richie GraySpringbok breakdown consultant Richie Gray believes games are mostly won and lost in the ‘top two inches’.

Speaking ahead of the Boks’ encounter with Italy at Stadio Euganeo in Padua on Saturday, Gray admitted the Boks’ dramatic turnaround from week one (Ireland) to week two (England) on tour can be put down to an improved mindset.

Despite the Boks’ dominance on the statistics sheet, the Boks’ Scottish assistant felt they were just not ‘in the game’ mentally.

In fact, he clearly subscribes to that adage first uttered by Leonard H Courtney in 1895: “After all, facts are facts, and although we may quote one to another with a chuckle, in the words of the Wise Statesman: ‘Lies, damn lies and statistics.’ Still there are some easy figures the simplest must understand, and the astutest cannot wriggle out of.”

Gray pointed to the “big difference” from week one to week two on tour as an example of how a change in mindset can improve a team’s performance and result.

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Martin Castrogiovanni

Martin Castrogiovanni

The Italian team was given a clean bill of health ahead of their encounter with South Africa at Stadio Euganeo in Padua on Saturday – the last match of their year-end campaign.

After a credible 24-13 win over Samoa in their opening match, the Azzurri slipped to an 18-20 to Argentina last week.

Jacques Brunel’s charges, determined to get back on the winning track and record their first-ever win over the Springboks in what will be the 12th encounter between the countries, returned to the training field on Monday with all the players that featured against the Pumas available again.

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Willie le Roux

Willie le Roux

The Springboks on Monday received welcome news with fullback Willie le Roux cleared of any fractures after undergoing a scan.

Le Roux picked up a cheekbone injury in last Saturday’s 31-28 win over England at Twickenham.

His participation for this Saturday’s Test against Italy in Padova was still in doubt when he went for a scan on Monday.

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Johan Goosen

Johan Goosen

Johan Goosen is ready to emerge from obscurity and stake a claim to be once again a regular member of the Springbok squad.

Goosen, who has struggled to regain the form that saw him play four Tests in his debut year as a Bok in 2012, is on standby to take over at fullback from Willie le Roux against Italy in Padova on Saturday.

Le Roux, who injured his cheekbone against England at the weekend, remains on the team’s ‘doubtful list – despite scans clearing him from any fractures.

“We’ll manage Willie during training this week, but he should be available to face Italy,” team doctor Craig Roberts said.

Even with the positive news on the instinctive Le Roux, Goosen’s name has been penciled in to wear the No 15 jersey.

Springbok assistant coach Ricardo Loubscher confirmed that Goosen is an option, should Le Roux be ruled out or ‘rested’ from the third Test on South Africa’s four-match year-end tour.

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IRBThe Wallabies 26-29 loss to France in Paris will result in Australia moving to 4th position overall in the IRB rankings.

Meanwhile Ireland, who defeated Georgia 49-7, moves into the top three in the world.

This is despite Joe Schmidt’s men not gaining any rankings points over 15th placed Georgia, and they will jump from fifth to third in the biggest move of the weekend.

Likewise the All Blacks made no difference and remain number one after playing eighth placed Scotland.

The Springboks improved their position by nearly a full ranking point with their 31-28 win over England.

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Coenie Oosthuizen

Coenie Oosthuizen

If the Springboks stick to their current pecking order, utility prop Coenie Oosthuizen faces probably the most acid examination of his scrummaging ability as a tighthead against Italy in Padova on Saturday (16:00 SA Time).

Coach Heyneke Meyer has already said that first-choice No 3 Jannie du Plessis, who hobbled off in the 65th minute of the 31-28 victory over England at Twickenham, is unlikely to be ready for the Italian challenge.

The Boks will be heavily tipped to beat them – whether they put out an experimental sort of combination or not — but the one area where the Italians traditionally provide fierce opposition is at scrum-time, and this weekend is expected to be no different.

As former Italy coach Nick Mallett pointed out in the SuperSport studio on Saturday, they have a strong and experienced front row, especially with that burly cult figure Martin Castrogiovanni back in the mix on the tighthead side, where he should earn his 98th cap on Saturday.

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Willie le Roux

Willie le Roux

Jannie du Plessis

Jannie du Plessis

The Springboks have two main injury concerns following their bruising 31-28 victory over England at Twickenham on Saturday.

Prop Jannie Du Plessis hobbled off in the 64th minute of the game after he went down awkwardly at the breakdown, which team doctor Craig Roberts is currently investigating.

“Jannie hyper-extended his knee in a ruck and was caught quite awkwardly. His foot got stuck in the ground and couldn’t bend his knee which ended up overstretching his hamstring and hyper-extending his knee.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

The Springboks put in a powerful performance full of passion and pride to beat a game England 31-28 in front of a packed Twickenham stadium in London.

In doing so the Boks restored some pride after their Dublin ambush and continued their dominance over England in a run that now stretches 12 matches and back to 2006.

And while the scoreline eventually talked about a close match, the Boks were much more dominant than it suggests, and frustratingly let England into the game at crucial times when they should have put them away.

In the end, a crucial yellow card to lock Victor Matfield – inconsistent from referee Steve Walsh given the rest of his rulings in the game – swept England back into the game when they were staring down the barrel at 20-6 down.

For a brief five-minute period, down to 14 men, the Boks were unable to cope with England`s driving maul and conceded two tries, even though the second one came from a shocking error from the touch judge, who gave the English a line-out when it should have gone to the Boks.

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Patrick Lambie

Patrick Lambie

Cobus Reinach

Cobus Reinach

Rugby World Cup winners JP Pietersen and Schalk Burger will start Saturday’s second Test in the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour against England at Twickenham as the Springbok match-23 is retained from last weekend.

The five changes to the team are straight swaps between the starting line-up and the bench. Along with Pietersen and Burger, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has handed starts to hooker Adriaan Strauss and the halfback pair of Cobus Reinach and Pat Lambie.

Cornal Hendricks, Handré Pollard, Francois Hougaard, Teboho Mohoje and Bismarck du Plessis will start on the bench.

“We’ve accepted our performance against Ireland last weekend was not up to scratch and everyone in the touring squad has put up their hands and dug deep this week,” said Meyer. “We’ve really worked hard at fixing the mistakes we made and the challenge is now to put that into action on Saturday.”

Meyer said the changes were not a knee-jerk reaction following the result in Dublin, but rather in line with rotational changes that he had in mind before the start of the tour.

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Anthony Watson

Anthony Watson

Anthony Watson will start his first international for England in Saturday’s clash against South Africa at Twickenham.

Watson replaces Bath Rugby teammate Semesa Rokoduguni on the right wing in the only change to the starting line-up from the match against New Zealand, the 20 year-old handed a chance to build on his cameo appearance from the bench in last weekend’s 24-21 defeat.

A prolific graduate of the England age-group system who was part of the 2013 Junior World Championship-winning side, he can also draw confidence from the June tour to New Zealand.

Watson’s promotion means Harlequins flyer Marland Yarde, who has scored four tries in five international appearances thus far, comes onto the bench.

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