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James Horwill

James Horwill

Queensland Rugby has announced James Horwill has signed a three-year contract with English Premiership giant Harlequins.

Horwill will make the move to the famous London club following the 2015 Rugby World Cup, which concludes in October next year.

He is currently the most-capped Queensland captain, having led the Reds on 69 occasions.

A modern-day champion of the Reds who led Queensland to the 2011 Super Rugby title, Horwill will make the 2015 Super Rugby season his 10th and his last and is determined to achieve success when he pulls on the Reds jersey for the final time next year.

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George North

Wales and Northampton’s George North

George North has insisted he is not planning to return to regional rugby any time soon but backed the new dual-contract system which has attracted Dan Lydiate to return from France.

The Northampton wing hailed Welsh union and regional bosses for finally agreeing a “feasible option” that will boost chances of top stars remaining in the domestic game.

Lydiate capitalised on the new contracts by return from Racing Metro to the Ospreys and will make his debut against Ulster this Saturday.

North believes more top stars could follow suit but stressed his current situation at Northampton suits him “down to the ground”.

The Saints release North for all his Wales commitments, a situation he admits allows him to gain the best of both worlds.

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Charlie Matthews

Charlie Matthews

Harlequins lock Charlie Matthews could face a ban of up to one year after he was cited for allegedly making contact with the eye area of Leinster flanker Dominic Ryan in last Saturday’s European Champions Cup match.

The 23-year-old – who was sin-binned by French referee Romain Poite for the altercation – will face a disciplinary panel in London on Wednesday.

The panel could impose anything from a low end sanction lasting 12 weeks, mid-range 24 weeks, while in the worst case scenario he could be banned for a year for a more serious offence.

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Dylan Hartley

Dylan Hartley

England hooker Dylan Hartley has rejected a mega offer from Top 14 club Montpellier to sign a new deal with Northampton.

The 28-year-old has revealed that he was given a ‘very generous offer’ by the club to move to France.

However, Hartley has opted to remain with Premiership champions Saints and outlined his reasons today.

Hartley stated that the move would have had no impact on his England career ahead of next year’s World Cup, while turning down the possibility of ‘300 days of sunshine’ was not easy.

“It’s no secret I was offered a deal to join one of the leading French sides, Montpellier, which would have been worth significantly more. But money isn’t everything,” Hartley wrote in his column in a newspaper.

“I don’t want to come across all ‘holier than thou’ over this, but I do believe the world loyalty has gone out of fashion a bit – and for me that really means something.”

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Mouritz Botha

Mouritz Botha

Mouritz Botha has been reluctantly released by Saracens to join The Sharks in South Africa, with effect from 1 January 2015.

Mark McCall, Director of Rugby, said: “Mouritz has been a massive part of our squad and our culture for the past five and a half seasons, and we are very sorry to see him leave. However, this is a great opportunity to play for one of the top teams in the Super XV, and we wish him, Natasha and young Joshua well.”

Botha joined Saracens from Bedford Blues in 2009, has played 142 matches for the club and has also been capped 10 times by England.

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End Of Year ToursOnce again the four Rugby Championship teams have been and gone but this time they did not have it all their own way on their annual visit to the British Isles as it ended five wins apiece from the 10 Tests.

Ireland beat both South Africa and Australia, Wales downed the former and England the latter, and Scotland defeated Argentina.

Admittedly, the Pumas are not part of rugby union’s traditional southern hemisphere big three, and the incomparable All Blacks sailed through their Tests unbeaten, but even discounting the Scottish win over Argentina the matches against the three giants from the south only ended 5-4 to the visitors.

Former England and Lions great Jeremy Guscott has been out and about  during November and here he selects a XV for both the home nations and the Rugby Championship sides.

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All BlacksReigning champions New Zealand remained the team to beat less than a year out from the World Cup in England after yet another successful November campaign in Europe.

There’s nothing new in the All Blacks being the yardstick for the global game and their rivals will take some comfort in knowing New Zealand have yet to win the World Cup on foreign soil.

So the fact they were pushed close by both England (24-21) and Wales (34-16) this month before emerging victorious won’t have done the All Blacks any harm, nor will the success of a virtual second-choice side in preserving their unbeaten record against Scotland.

However, all these matches demonstrated how no team goes for the full 80 minutes quite like New Zealand, who have enviable depth.

England found themselves needing two scores in the closing stages against the All Blacks and managed one while Wales conceded 24 points in the final 17 minutes.

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AustraliaEnglandA try in both halves from Ben Morgan helped England claim a well-deserved 26-17 victory over Australia at Twickenham.

England displayed excellent composure in defence and made the most of their possession by running in two tries to claim a massive psychological advantage with the World Cup a few months away.

The Wallabies outscored the hosts 14-13 in the second half but failed to overturn a 10-point half-time deficit.

Scrum dominance, allied to fine work at the breakdown led by England captain Chris Robshaw, were the cornerstones of England’s victory.

The win saw England end the November programme with a 50 percent success rate after defeats by both world champions New Zealand (24-21) and South Africa (31-28) were followed by last week’s 28-9 win over Samoa.

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WalesSouth AfricaWales (3) 12 / 6 (3) Springboks (Final Score)

Wales and the South African Springboks did battle in the End Of Year Tours at

Millennium stadium, Cardiff, Wales at 16:30 SA Time (14:30 BST & GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.

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Take Note that the England vs Australia game was at the same time slot as the Wales vs South Africa game, therefore we concentrated on the Wales vs South Africa game, with SCORE UPDATES at the Bottom of the Article on the England vs Australia game.

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Chris Robshaw

Michael Hooper

Michael Hooper

England captain Chris Robshaw is an “absolute pest” according to Australia counterpart and fellow openside flank Michael Hooper.

The two loose forwards will be involved in a contest to boss the breakdown when England face Australia at Twickenham on Saturday, less than a year out from the teams’ 2015 World Cup pool clash at the London ground.

Yet even though Robshaw has established himself as England coach Stuart Lancaster’s undoubted first-choice captain, there are those who continue to question whether his leadership skills offset the fact he is not a turnover specialist in the mould of New Zealand skipper Richie McCaw.

Lancaster has faced repeated demands to abandon England’s policy of selecting overseas-based players in “exceptional circumstances” only and revive the Test career of impressive flank Steffon Armitage, the reigning European player of the year, who has been starring for French and European champions Toulon.

But Hooper, one of the best scavenging openside flanks in the modern game, said Robshaw’s qualities as a flank should not be discounted.

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Sam Burgess

Sam Burgess

Rugby league star Sam Burgess made his highly-anticipated union debut for Bath in a comprehensive 25-6 victory over Harlequins in the English Premiership on Friday.

Burgess had not played rugby since fracturing his cheekbone and eye socket during his final appearance for South Sydney in their 30-6 NRL Grand Final victory over Canterbury Bulldogs in October.

But he was named on the bench for Bath, for whom he was signed a three-year deal worth an estimated 270,000 with a tilt at England’s World Cup squad in mind.

And the player capped 28 times as a forward for England in rugby league came on in the 63rd minute as a centre alongside fellow league convert Kyle Eastmond.

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Sean McMahon

Sean McMahon

Sean McMahon returns to the Australian starting lineup in one of three changes ahead of their final year-end Test, against England at Twickenham on Saturday.

With Tevita Kuridrani unavailable due to a low-grade ankle injury, Test veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper has been selected at outside centre, which allows Rob Horne to earn a starting position on the wing.

The starting line-up is otherwise unchanged with McMahon part of a back row including captain Michael Hooper and Ben McCalman, locks Sam Carter and Rob Simmons, and a front row of James Slipper, Saia Fainga’a and Sekope Kepu.

In the backs Nick Phipps and Bernard Foley continue their play-making partnership,Matt Toomua joins Adam Ashley-Cooper in the centres, with a back three consisting of Israel Folau, Rob Horne and Henry Speight.

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Billy Twelvetrees

Billy Twelvetrees

Billy Twelvetrees has been handed his first start of the 2014 Internationals against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday with Owen Farrell reverting to the bench.

The Gloucester Rugby centre, who started every game in last season’s Six Nations campaign, takes the No 12 jersey and shifts Saracen Owen Farrell to the replacements’ bench as George Ford is retained at flyhalf.

Up front, Northampton Saints pair Tom Wood and Dylan Hartley take over from James Haskell (Wasps) and Rob Webber (Bath Rugby) at blindside flank and hooker respectively.

Despite those changes to the run-on side, the same match-day 23 who beat Samoa 28-9 last weekend will be on duty as England look to secure a 10th victory in 13 Twickenham Tests.

Reviewing his selection, Head Coach Stuart Lancaster praised Twelvetrees for his committed self-development over the current campaign.

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EnglandEngland head coach Stuart Lancaster has retained the 23 players that faced Samoa for this weekend’s Test match against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday.

The same 23-man squad that secured a first win of the autumn against Samoa will line up against the Wallabies at Twickenham Stadium for the final November Test.

Gloucester Rugby centre Billy Twelvetrees keeps his place and will compete with Saracens’ Owen Farrell for the inside centre slot, as explained by head coach Stuart Lancaster earlier today.

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George Ford

George Ford

England coach Stuart Lancaster confirmed that George Ford will stay at flyhalf for Saturday’s clash against Australia.

Ford made a strong full debut in the 28-9 victory over Samoa at Twickenham and Lancaster wants him to continue in the No 10 jersey worn by Owen Farrell for most of the coach’s reign.

The experiment of moving Farrell to inside centre may be abandoned after just one match, with Lancaster giving serious consideration to selecting Billy Twelvetrees in the position he last called his own in the second Test of the tour to New Zealand.

Twelvetrees impressed as a second-half replacement against Samoa and is locked in a two-way duel with Farrell to face the Wallabies in the climax to England’s autumn campaign.

“George has earned the right to start again. He’s played well enough for that,” Lancaster said.

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Tevita Kuridrani

Tevita Kuridrani

Tevita Kuridrani has been ruled out of Saturday’s match against England at Twickenham with an ankle injury.

The in-form Wallabies centre picked up the injury early in the second half of their 26-23 defeat to Ireland. Tests on Monday revealed a low grade tear, meaning Kuridrani won’t be available for the match against England, although he should be clear by the time Super Rugby rolls around.

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Thomas Waldrom

Thomas Waldrom

Stuart Lancaster has recalled 34 players to Pennyhill Park to prepare for Saturday’s final International against Australia at Twickenham Stadium.

Exeter Chiefs’ in form No 8 Thomas Waldrom, who has scored seven tries in eight Premiership games this season, replaces Billy Vunipola.

The Saracens man suffered concussion in Saracens’ defeat to Northampton Saints at the weekend will undergo the Graduated Return To Play protocol at his club.

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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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George Ford

George Ford

Owen Farrell

Owen Farrell

England coach Stuart Lancaster will make potentially the most important selection decision of his tenure when he chooses between George Ford and Owen Farrell as his starting flyhalf for next week’s match with Australia.

Ford, 21, was handed his first start on Saturday and grabbed the opportunity with both hands as England beat Samoa 28-9.

In 80 minutes of a patchy overall team performance he tried more, and achieved more in terms of inventive attacking ideas, than steady and reliable Farrell has mustered in the last 18 months.

He also landed five of his seven goal kicks, an area where Farrell is considered to have the edge.

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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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Four International Tests overlapped or at least partly overlapped one another between 18:30 to almost midnight on Saturday 22 November 2014, SA Time.
Seeing as all 4 matches were broadcast LIVE on TV in South Africa… although on 2 different SuperSport channels, we hosted all FOUR in one GLOBAL ARTICLE!

 

IrelandAustraliaIreland (20) 26 / 23 (20) Wallabies (Final Score)

Ireland and the Australian Wallabies did battle in the End Of Year Tours at

Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland at 18:30 SA Time (16:30 BST & GMT, 03:30 Sunday AEST).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.

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WalesNew ZealandWales (3) 16 / 34 (3) All Blacks (Final Score)

Wales and the New Zealand All Blacks did battle in the End Of Year Tours at

Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales at 19:30 SA Time (17:30 BST & GMT, 06:30 Sunday NZ Time).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 6 on TV in SA.

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EnglandSamoaEngland (13) 28 / 9 (6) Samoa (Final Score)

England and Samoa did battle in the End Of Year Tours at

Twickenham, London, England at 21:00 SA Time (19:00 BST & GMT, 09:00 Sunday Samoa Time).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.

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FranceArgentinaFrance (3) 13 / 18 (15) Los Pumas (Final Score)

France and the Argentinian Pumas did battle in the End Of Year Tours at

Stade de France, Paris, France at 22:00 SA Time (21:00 French Time, 20:00 GMT, 17:00 Arg Time).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 6 on TV in SA.

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George Ford

George Ford

George Ford is set to make his first Test start after being selected at flyhalf in a revamped England side to play Samoa at Twickenham on Saturday.

Ford, all of whose four previous Test appearances have come as a replacement, now finds himself in the No 10 shirt with regular fly-half Owen Farrell moved across to inside centre by England coach Stuart Lancaster despite unimpressive showings in this month’s defeats by world champions New Zealand and South Africa

Farrell played the first two matches of his England career, in 2012, at inside centre when he was also alongside Brad Barritt, who is again set to be his midfield partner against Samoa this weekend.

“It’s great to give George a start in this series after he missed the summer tour through injury,” Lancaster said in a Rugby Football Union statement published on Wednesday.

“George has been impressive in camp and is now fully up to speed with the game plan and is ready to run the game. Owen switches to 12 and I’m sure will support George well.”

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SamoaSamoa’s Census Johnston is set to win his 50th international cap this weekend after being named in the side to play England at Twickenham on Saturday.

The tighthead prop, who has also played three Tests for the combined Pacific Islands team, lines up in the front row with hooker Ti’iPaulo and loosehead prop Sakaria Taulafo.

Samoa have made six changes to the starting XV that beat Canada 23-13 in Vannes, north-west France, last Friday.

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Bath PlugBath RugbyErrr… wrong picture… I did not say Bath Plug, I said Bath Rugby! OK, here’s the right one!

Gmpfff, still looks somewhat the same!

 

Anyway… Bath head coach Mike Ford has said the club are not in the market for Springbok loose forward Duane Vermeulen.

Earlier in the week there was speculation that Bath were on the hunt for Vermeulen to be one of their marquee players alongside Wallaby Will Genia.

“It was news to us when it was mentioned to us earlier today,” Ford said on Tuesday.

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Stuart Lancaster

Stuart Lancaster

England coach Stuart Lancaster made three changes to his matchday squad to face Samoa on Saturday, as he looks to end a five-match losing streak.

Richard Wigglesworth, James Haskell and Billy Twelvetrees will make their first appearances in a matchday squad in the year-end Tests, after being named among the 23 players to face Samoa in the third international this month.

Saracens scrumhalf Wigglesworth, who won the last of his 14 Test caps on the 2013 tour to Argentina, replaces the starting No 9 from the three-point defeats to New Zealand and South Africa, Harlequins’ Danny Care.

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Luther Burrell

Luther Burrell

Billy Twelvetrees

Billy Twelvetrees

Luther Burrell and Billy Twelvetrees are both in contention to face Samoa at Twickenham on Saturday, after Burrell was named in the group preparing for the third of England’s year-end Tests.

The Northampton Saints centre, who scored three tries in the 2014 Six Nations, is among 28 players recalled by Stuart Lancaster to Pennyhill Park on Monday – after recovering from a hand injury.

Bath wing Semesa Rokoduguni, missing from the 28-31 defeat to South Africa with a thigh injury, has not recovered sufficiently to retake his place in the squad and will remain at the club.

Domestic colleague Kyle Eastmond suffered concussion towards the end of the match last Saturday and will undergo the graduated return to play protocol in hope of playing against the South Sea Islanders.

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IRBThe International Rugby Board said Monday it wanted no repeat of Samoa’s threatened boycott of this weekend’s match against England ahead of next year’s World Cup.

Samoa’s players had warned they were contemplating pulling out of Saturday’s clash at Twickenham as a protest against their treatment by the Samoa Rugby Union.

IRB chief executive Brett Gosper, speaking at the World Rugby ConfEx in London said talks involving the SRU, the players, the International Rugby Players’ Association and the IRB meant “there is no threat to the game whatsoever at Twickenham”.

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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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EnglandSamoaSamoa’s game with England may well be in jeopardy again as the Samoan Rugby Union continues to snub its players over grievances with their governance.

Samoa’s senior internationals issued a public appeal to the Samoa Rugby Union to discuss player grievances after the Union did not appear at talks on Saturday as festering disharmony clouds the future of the team.

Grievances which surfaced at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand remain unresolved, leading to players originally threatening to strike ahead of next weekend’s Test against England at Twickenham.

Although the strike was called off following the intervention of the International Rugby Board, the players say they want their concerns dealt with urgently “to ensure positive change for the benefit of Samoa rugby”.

Former Samoan player Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu, who was banned for six months after tweeting that referee Nigel Owens was “racist” and “biased” when his team lost to South Africa in the 2011 World Cup, has again spoken out on Twitter.

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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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Stuart Lancaster

Stuart Lancaster

England coach Stuart Lancaster insisted there would be no panic after Saturday’s 31-28 loss to South Africa at Twickenham made it five straight defeats for the 2015 World Cup hosts less than a year out from the showpiece tournament.

“We’ve played the top two sides in the world now and that’s the benchmark for us,” said Lancaster, appointed in 2012 following England’s loss to France in the quarter finals of the 2011 World Cup.

“We’ve never said we’re the finished article. When we [the coaching staff] took the roles in 2012 we knew we had to take a young group of players through some tough environments.

“Playing New Zealand first up was always going to be tough but we’re not going to sit here and feel sorry for ourselves,” he added.

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Sir Clive Woodward

Sir Clive Woodward

England World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward criticised the absence of “real footballers” in the Red Rose back division after their 31-28 loss to South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday.

Woodward, who guided England to World Cup glory in 2003, saw current coach Stuart Lancaster’s side match the Springboks up front, but fail match them behind the scrum.

South Africa centre Jan Serfontein grabbed an intercept try in the first half and scrumhalf Cobus Reinach, making his maiden Test start, scored his first Springbok try after flyhalf Pat Lambie’s brilliant chip ahead was regathered, at speed, by fullback Willie le Roux a minute after the break.

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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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