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Springboks

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SpringboksWhile South Africa finished the year second in the world, and the only side in 2014 to defeated the All Blacks, their two losses at the end of the year against Ireland and Wales exposed deficiencies that will be studiously worked on by the coaching team.

One thing is for certain, there is likely to be some changes to the portfolio after Heyneke Meyer admitted that elements like the team’s kicking weren’t working, while the usually reliable power game of the Springboks wasn’t able to rule proceedings in Dublin and Cardiff.

They did however, during that 27-25 win at Ellis Park over New Zealand, show that they have the breakdown belligerence and attacking sense to match any side.

Even if four losses in their last eight of the year came seemed to come from a lack of crystal concise mindset than anything else, at times kicking, running or passing seemed to come without the smart bomb like precision we usually expect from a Boks team.

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HSBC Sevens World SeriesBlitzbokkeSouth Africa have beaten New Zealand 26-17 in the Cup final at the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in a repeat of last year’s victory, in front of 36 425 fans.

The Blitzbokke are the toast of South Africa after title defence at Nelson Mandela Bay stadium on the weekend.

The Blitzbokke have accordingly also now moved to first in the global HSBC Sevens World Series standings with win, as the road to Rio (2016 Olympics) heats up.

South Africa have defended their title and won their second consecutive round of the HSBC Sevens World Series with a 26-17 win over defending series champions New Zealand at the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in Port Elizabeth, round three of the Series.

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SpringboksThe South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Friday confirmed the home venues for the 2015 Castle Lager Rugby Championship.

The Springboks will play New Zealand at Emirates Airline Park (formerly Ellis Park), Johannesburg, on Saturday 25 July and Argentina at Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban, on Saturday 8 August.

The schedule was amended as a result of the condensing of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship competition to three rounds because of the Rugby World Cup, which begins in mid-September.

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HSBC Sevens World SeriesThe last Tournament in the 2014 calendar year for the HSBC Sevens World Series of 2014 / 2015 took place in Port Elizabeth at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens tournament was played over 2 Days, Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 December 2014.

When play started on Day 1, France scored within 14 seconds against Fiji, but Fiji rallied to demolish France by 45 / 5.

Canada surprised by beating Scotland 14 / 12 in the 2nd game.

A number of more surprises followed on Day one, but what remained firm was the South African Blitzbokke resolve as they monstered their way to 3 excellent wins, and only conceeding a solitary try in the process.

Apart from South Africa, the other big Sevens nations – New Zealand, England, Fiji and Australia were joined by USA, Scotland and Argentina in the Cup Quarters on Day 2.

South Africa advanced to the Final, beating England and Australia along the way, whilst New Zealand beat USA to advance to a semi against Argentina, then comfortably beat Argentina, to book their place against the South African Blitzbokke in the Final.

Australia took the 3rd Place Play-off game against Argentina, 34 / 19.

The South African Blitzbokke took Final honours against New Zealand by 26 / 17 and made it back to back tournament wins as well as a successful defence of the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens title!

To Southern Hemisphere rugby interests, this tournament represents the last action in the 2014 rugby season, with their off-season officially starting after this tournament.

In the Northern Hemisphere though, it is all action in December.

The 2014 / 2015 season carries added significance because the top-ranked sides after the ninth and final round in London in May 2015 will qualify directly for the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.

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Francois Louw

Francois Louw

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer will be pleased to see two of his stalwarts returning to the rugby field in the European Cup this weekend.

Bath’s Francois Louw is set to make his comeback after a ten-week stint on the sideline following surgery on his neck for nerve damage.

The flank last played for the Springboks in their Rugby Championship Test against the All Blacks in Wellington on 13 September.

Bath assistant coach Toby Booth has indicated that Louw may be thrown straight into the action and could start for the English team when they face Montpellier at home on Friday.

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Captains for the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens tournament

Captains for the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens tournament: Ed Jenkins, Osea Kolinisau, DJ Forbes & Kyle Brown

After climbing into the top four after two rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series, Australia and New Zealand know it’s far too early to rest on their laurels with Olympic qualification also up for grabs this season.

As the 16 captains assemble for the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in Port Elizabeth, Australian skipper Ed Jenkins and his New Zealand counterpart DJ Forbes reflect on their respective team’s elevation to the all-important top four after the first two rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series.

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Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium

This weekend’s HSBC Sevens World Series tournament in Port Elizabeth will not be affected by load shedding, stadium organisers have assured.

Lourens Oberholzer from Access Management said that the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium has high power generators designed to ensure constant supply of electricity to the stadium in the event of any power outage.

Oberholzer also said the local municipality has assured them that the stadium will not be affected by load shedding this weekend.

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Nizaam Carr

Nizaam Carr

Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

Nizaam Carr and Handré Pollard lead the full list of nominees released by SARU on Wednesday for their annual Player of the Year Awards, which will take place on 8 February in Midrand.

Carr and Pollard, both of whom made their Test debuts for the Springboks this season, have both been nominated in three categories.

The 23-year-old Carr has been nominated in for the SARU Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and Currie Cup Player of the Year.

Pollard, who is only 20, has been nominated in the categories for SARU Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and SA Under 20 Player of the Year.

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Zane Kirchner

Zane Kirchner

Morné Steyn

Morné Steyn

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is likely to surprise with a few unpopular decisions in his 2015 Rugby World Cup squad.

According to weekend newspaper reports, the inclusion of flyhalf Morné Steyn and fullback Zane Kirchner could be the biggest shocks in Meyer’s 31-man squad for next year’s showpiece event in England and Wales.

Kirchner has fallen out of favour in recent times after the emergence of Willie le Roux, while Steyn has fallen behind Pat Lambie and Handré Pollard in the flyhalf pecking order.

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Nizaam Carr

Nizaam Carr

Marcell Coetzee

Marcell Coetzee

Willie le Roux

Willie le Roux

Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

Five Springboks have been nominated for the prestigious SA Rugby Player of the Year Award for 2014 with one of Nizaam Carr, Marcell Coetzee, Willie le Roux, Handré Pollard or Duane Vermeulen in line to claim the coveted annual award for the first time in their careers.

The five players, who all played for the Boks this year, have been nominated by the South African rugby media following a stellar year on the field. Springbok rugby fans across the globe will now be given a voice in the selection of the winner, SARU announced on Friday.

The public will also be asked to cast their votes in two other categories, Young Player and the Absa Team of the Year. To cast your vote, CLICK HERE.

Carr and Pollard have also being named in the Young Player category, along with Cheslin Kolbe, Seabelo Senatla and Jan Serfontein. The Junior Springboks, Springboks, Springbok Sevens, DHL Western Province and Xerox Golden Lions have been nominated as Absa Team of the Year.

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Blitzbokke

HSBC Sevens World SeriesThe second last Tournament in the 2014 calendar year for the HSBC Sevens World Series of 2014 / 2015 is underway in Dubai.

The Emirates Dubai Sevens tournament is played over 2 Days, Friday 5 and Saturday 6 December 2014.

The last Tournament for the year is next weekend, in South Africa, at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

On Day 1, the traditional Sevens big sides, Fiji, New Zealand, South Africa, England and Australia have easily overcome their opponents in their first games.

Surprise results were Canada beating Wales by 19 / 14 and Scotland beating Samoa 21 / 14.

On Day 2 Fiji and New Zealand advanced to the 3rd place play-off and South Africa and Australia advanced to the Final.

South Africa’s Blitzbokke easily took the Final and the Dubai title by 33 / 7.

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Cricket BallThe Springboks (rugby side) took on the Proteas in a T20 celebration match, for the Nelson Mandela Legacy Cup, at Wanderers, Johannesburg on Friday 5 December 2014.

The Springbok side was made up of current and recent Springboks, whereas the Proteas have chosen a strong T20 National lineup.

The match started at 18:00 SA Time.

The score cards were be updated at regular intervals here on Rugby-Talk.com.

The Springboks put one over their Cricket counterparts, with 7 balls spare, Willem Alberts, the capatin on the day, bringing the Bokke home with a 4.

The Springboks win by 5 wickets.

 

Proteas: 181 / 10 (20 Overs)

Springboks: 185 / 5 (18.5 Overs)

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BlitzbokkeRegular Springbok Sevens captain Kyle Brown is eager to get back into the Blitzboks jersey and ready to play his part for his country after missing the first round the Sevens World Series in October at the Gold Coast through injury.

A serious shoulder injury sustained in the final of the Commonwealth Games, in Glasgow, in July ruled Brown out of action for several months and forced him to miss the season opener in Australia.

The Springbok Sevens finished fourth at the Gold Coast, a result which coach Neil Powell described as unsatisfactory after errors cost them on the second day’s play.

Brown, who is looking forward to making his return after a lengthy injury-layoff, said he was excited to be back.

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SpringboksThe South African Rugby Union received handy compensation from the Welsh Rugby Union for agreeing to play last weekend’s Test in Cardiff.

The Test at Millennium Stadium fell outside World Rugby’s international window, but was played after both rugby union’s agreed to square off.

According to reports, SARU received £750 000 (about R 13 Million) from the WRU for the Test.

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Flip van der Merwe

Flip van der Merwe

Springbok lock Flip van der Merwe says there is enough leadership in the team to fill the void left by Jean de Villiers.

The Springbok captain suffered a horrific knee injury in last Saturday’s Test against Wales in Cardiff. He faces an extended period on the sidelines and could even miss next year’s Rugby World Cup in England and Wales.

While losing De Villiers would be a big blow, Van der Merwe feels there are enough leaders in the squad for coach Heyneke Meyer to call on.

“It’s one of Heyneke’s big success stories during his time as coach. He concentrated on establishing a leadership group. of which Jean merely acts as manager,” Van der Merwe says.

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Jean de Villiers & Jan Serfontein

Jean de Villiers & Jan Serfontein

The Springboks are likely to head to the World Cup next year without a specialist outside centre, but is that such a problem?

Jaque Fourie’s recent retirement from international rugby and captain Jean de Villiers’ horrific knee injury means that Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer’s midfield options will have to be significantly revised next year.

The two formed the most capped centre pairing in Springbok history, and many had their money on seeing them together for one last hurrah in England next year.

A look at the options available shows that outside centres are in seemingly short supply, which means that the Boks may play with two inside centres as they effectively did throughout 2014.

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Jean de Villiers, Springbok captain, with knee dislocation injury against Wales

Jean de Villiers, Springbok captain, with knee dislocation injury against Wales

 

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers will require surgery on his injured left knee and will be in a race against time to be fit for the Rugby World Cup in England in 2015.

De Villiers left the field in the 58th minute of the Springboks’ final Test of the season, last Saturday against Wales in Cardiff, after twisting his left knee and dislocating his knee cap.

Scans shortly after the match revealed significant ligament damage to the knee. De Villiers returned to South Africa on Monday and was assessed by an orthopaedic surgeon in Cape Town, who advised that the Springbok captain requires surgical reconstruction of the knee.

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Mark Boucher, former Proteas Wicketkeeper

Mark Boucher, former Proteas Wicketkeeper

The Springboks have signalled their intentions to go all out in the forthcoming Nelson Mandela Legacy Cup against the South African cricket team by appointing former Proteas wicketkeeper, Mark Boucher, as head coach.

Furthermore hard-man Willem Alberts, who took two wickets with consecutive balls and hit a quick 10 runs off nine balls at Newlands in January, has been named to captain the Springboks at the Wanderers.

Springbok Management have also confirmed kicking coach and former Bok flyhalf, Louis Koen, will replace the injured Jean de Villiers in the starting XI for Friday’s match at the Wanderers Stadium.

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Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

As one of three players to have played in all 12 of South Africa’s Test matches in 2014 it is safe to say No.8 Duane Vermeulen is now an integral part of Heyneke Meyer’s plans for the World Cup.

A stellar year that included a man-of-the-match performance in October’s win over the All Blacks, and culminated in his nomination for World Rugby Player of the Year.

The next goal for Vermeulen will be impressing on the World stage in his first ever World Cup tournament after only making his debut in the Rugby Championship in 2012 at the age of 26.

“It wasn’t always a dream to play for the Springboks – that developed later on, and now I want to play in a World Cup. Hopefully I can stay in the team,” he said,” Vermeulen said.

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Hannes Strydom

Hannes Strydom

Former Springbok lock Hannes Strydom says he fought back after six men tried to hijack his vehicle in Pretoria on Monday.

Strydom, 49, was admitted to the intensive care unit of the Little Company of Mary hospital in Groenkloof after surviving the attempted hijacking.

The incident occurred in Aries street in Pretoria’s Waterkloof Ridge suburb.

According to Strydom’s wife, Nikolie, the skull around his left eye socket was fractured after one of the hijackers threw a “rock”.

But the former Springbok and Golden Lions star has since recovered and was moved out of ICU on Tuesday afternoon.

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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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SpringboksThe International season is done for the Southern Hemisphere and for Springbok rugby for 2014 and the only rugby of real importance left for us southern rugby junkies, are the 2 remaining HSBC Sevens World Series Tournaments in 2014 – the Dubai Sevens this coming weekend and the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens Tournament the week thereafter.

In the meantime the Southern Hemisphere Super Rugby sides are extremely busy with their preparation work, conditioning and getting ready for Super Rugby 2015.

The question is, what has the Springboks learnt from the year of 2014 and from the End Of Year Tour?

Will we see a total change of tack and a move away from the high-ball kick and chase bombs from the Springboks? Very few International Tests remain before the start of the Rugby World Cup 2015 (18 September 2015) in England, however a full season of Super Rugby and the abbreviated Rugby Championship still loom in 2015 before the World Cup starts.

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South Africa suffered a big blow when Springbok captain Jean de Villiers was injured during their 12-6 defeat to Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday.

De Villiers was forced to leave the field in the 58th minute after twisting his left knee and dislocating his knee cap. The dislocation was reduced on the field and he was sent for scans shortly after the match.

“The scans revealed significant ligament damage to the inside of his knee and the supporting muscles,” said Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts.

“Jean will return to South Africa and see an orthopaedic specialist in Cape Town early in the week. He has had previous surgery on this knee and the further management of the injury is dependent upon the specialist’s recommendations.”

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said losing De Villiers was a massive setback as the team were just beginning to build momentum in a tough encounter against Wales. The home team’s points came via four Leigh Halfpenny penalty goals, while Pat Lambie responded with two penalty goals for the visitors.

“It was a massively disappointing way to end the tour and our season, as we always strive to make our country proud,” said Meyer.

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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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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.

*******************

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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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

South Africa need no extra motivation to raise themselves for Saturday’s season-ending Test match against Wales after being pushed hard by the Welsh in their last match earlier this year.

The South Africans led 17-0 and 30-17 early in the clash in Nelspruit in June before the Welsh staged a dramatic comeback, only to fall short by a solitary point, as the Springboks hung on for a 31-30 victory.

That win stretched the Springboks’ formidable record over Wales to just one loss (1999) and one draw (1970) in 29 matches between the two countries.

“It’s pretty easy to motivate yourself. It’s the last one, you can put all your effort into it, not that you don’t in any other week of the year.

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Jamie Roberts

Jamie Roberts

Wales centre Jamie Roberts insisted he was ready for more of the same against South Africa on Saturday, despite being unable to run for four days after his exploits against the New Zealand last week.

Roberts, a qualified doctor currently taking a medical sabbatical playing for Racing-Metro in the French Top 14 league, admitted that he did not dwell too long on the pain and suffering he caused his own body.

“It’s taken me about four or five days to recover from last weekend,” Roberts said of the battering he took in the 34-16 loss to New Zealand.

“It was car-crash stuff last weekend.

“I take anti-inflammatory medication before most games now just to reduce swelling in knees and ankles and so forth.

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BlitzbokkeExciting Vodacom Blue Bulls fullback Warrick Gelant will make his debut for South Africa at the Dubai HSBC World Sevens Series in December after being named in coach Neil Powell’s 12-man squad on Thursday for Round 2 of the International Sevens extravaganza.

The tournament will be hosted at the Sevens Rugby Stadium on 5 & 6 December.

Cheslin Kolbe and Rayno Benjamin, two former regular Springbok Sevens stalwarts, meanwhile will make their return to the Blitzboks squad after starring for their provincial unions this past season. There is also a welcome return for regular skipper Kyle Brown, who has overcome his shoulder troubles.

Powell, who coached the Springbok Sevens to second place in the Series last season and to a Commonwealth gold medal in June, said it was a tough job to select only 12 players for Dubai and Port Elizabeth.

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Warren Gatland

Warren Gatland

Wales coach Warren Gatland has denied he was under extra pressure as his team sought an elusive win over a Southern Hemisphere side when they clash with South Africa on Saturday.

Gatland’s record against the SANZAR sides of Australia, New Zealand and the Springboks since taking charge in 2007 does not make for pleasant reading: played 27, won one, lost 26.

That solitary win was against the Wallabies, 21-18, back in 2008, but Gatland on Thursday played down reports in the media that he was under extra pressure, 10 months away from the World Cup in England.

After opening their November campaign with a 28-33 defeat by Australia, an experimental Wales side scraped past Fiji 17-13 before rebounding against New Zealand, leading after 69 minutes before leaking three late tries to go down 16-34.

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Ross Cronjé

Ross Cronjé

Xerox Golden Lions scrumhalf Ross Cronje has been called up to the Springbok tour squad in Cardiff as replacement for Rudy Paige.

Paige injured his medial knee ligaments in training earlier this week and will be out for approximately four weeks.

A request was made for Toulouse scrumhalf Jano Vermaak to rejoin the squad but it was rejected as he is playing for his club this weekend.

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WalesWales have made three changes to their side to face South Africa on Saturday, with Gethin Jenkins, Scott Baldwin and Liam Williams all coming into the starting fifteen.

Jenkins and Baldwin will link up with Samson Lee to form the same frontrow that started the clash against Fiji a fortnight ago.

The rest of the pack remains unchanged from last weekend’s game against the world champions New Zealand, with Jake Ball partnering Alun Wyn Jones in the second row and Dan Lydiate and Taulupe Faletau lining up alongside captain Sam Warburton.

Ospreys halfbacks Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar continue their partnership as do the record breaking centre duo of Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies.

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Jaque Fourie

Jaque Fourie

Centre Jaque Fourie has joined fellow World Cup winner Bakkies Botha in deciding to quit the international stage.

Fourie, on the Union Sports Group player management agency’s official website, confirmed that he will no longer be available for Springbok selection.

“After much consideration, with regards to my current career status, I have decided to not make myself available for any international matches,” Fourie said in a statement on the agency website.

“I have chosen to remain focused on continuing with my current club, Kobelco Steelers.

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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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Referee: John Lacey

Referee: John Lacey

Ireland’s John Lacey will referee Saturday’s Test between Wales and the Springboks at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Lacey, 41, was also in charge of the Springboks’ Rugby Championship clash against Argentina at Loftus Versfeld in August this year. The Boks won 13-6.

Saturday’s Test will be his 11th to date.

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