Cape Town - The experienced trio of Willie le Roux, Faf de Klerk and Franco Mostert are back in the Springbok starting team for Saturday’s Test against France at the Stade de France in Paris.
The match in the French capital is South Africa’s second fixture of their year-end to the United Kingdom and France and kicks off at 22:05 (SA time).
The inclusion of Le Roux, De Klerk and Mostert - with close to 100 Test caps between them - are the only changes announced by coach Rassie Erasmus to the run-on team when he confirmed the Springbok match-23 on Thursday.
Le Roux takes over the No 15 duties from Damian Willemse while De Klerk comes in at scrumhalf to replace Ivan van Zyl, with the rest of the backline kept unchanged.
Mostert replaces Eben Etzebeth, who sustained a foot injury in last weekend’s 12-11 loss to England at Twickenham, in the only change to the pack.
With the availability of the Boks’ European-based players, Erasmus also announced three changes to the replacements. Vincent Koch (prop), Francois Louw (loose forward) and Cheslin Kolbe (utility back) are set to provide impact off the bench.
Players to watch:
For France: One player who will need little motivation for the home side is Louis Picamoles. The behemoth number eight is a superb ball carrier and will be determined to get his side over the advantage line with some barnstorming runs. However, the 32-year-old's game is not just about brute force as he also has some subtleties in his armoury and his ability to offload in the tackle makes him particularly dangerous.
For South Africa: After delivering one of his worst performances in a green and gold jersey, in last weekend's loss to England, Springbok hooker Malcolm Marx can consider himself fortunate to be in the starting line-up for this encounter. At his best, Marx is one of the world's best players and his nomination for the World Rugby Player of the Year award is testament to that. His ball carrying and prowess at the breakdown is excellent but in that Test against England his lineout throw-ins were poor and one of the main reasons for the Boks' defeat. He will be determined to improve in that department against France.
Head-to-head: The battle between the two flyhalves is always important and both France's Camille Lopez and Handre Pollard of the Springboks will be determined to prove their worth to their respective sides, albeit for different reasons. Lopez is a man on a mission. He makes his return to the Test arena after an 18-month break due to a serious ankle injury and will be keen to repay the faith shown in him by his coach. Meanwhile, Pollard will be keen to deliver an improved performance after offering little on attack against England and missed a vital penalty late on in that clash. Both pivots will be expected to dictate the pace of the game and lead the way in the playmaking department.
2018: South Africa won 18-17 in Paris
2017: South Africa won 35-12 in Johannesburg
2017: South Africa won 37-15 in Durban
2017: South Africa won 37-14 in Pretoria
2013: South Africa won 19-10 in Paris
2010: South Africa won 42-17 in Cape Town
2009: France won 20-13 in Toulouse
2006: France won 36-26 in Cape Town
15 Maxime Medard, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 11 Damian Penaud, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Baptiste Serin, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Arthur Iturria, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 3 Cedate Gomes Sa, 2 Guilhem Guirado (captain), 1 Jefferson Poirot
Substitutes: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Dany Priso, 18 Rabah Slimani, 19 Paul Gabrillagues, 20 Mathieu Babillot, 21 Antoine Dupont, 22 Anthony Belleau, 23 Gael Fickou
15 Willie le Roux, 14 S’bu Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Cheslin Kolbe