Duane Vermeulen to lead Springboks against New Zealand

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• Kwagga Smith handed starting berth in Wellington
• 457 Test caps in the Boks’ starting lineup


Experienced No 8 Duane Vermeulen will lead the Springboks against the All Blacks on Saturday, when the two traditional rivals clash in Wellington in the second round of the shortened 2019 Castle Lager Rugby Championship.

Rassie Erasmus, Director of Rugby, has named a much-changed side from the one that defeated the Wallabies by 35-17 in Johannesburg last weekend.

The Boks and All Blacks will battle it out in front of an expected capacity crowd of 34 500 at the Westpac Stadium, where the starting time for the game is 09h35 (SA time). SuperSport1 will broadcast the game live.

Eben Etzebeth (lock), last weekend’s Bok captain, and Pieter-Steph du Toit (loose forward) are the only two forwards who were retained from the win over the Wallabies, with Makazole Mapimpi (wing) the only backline player in the starting line-up who also started last weekend.

The rest of the Springbok starting lineup consists mainly of the group of players who travelled to New Zealand last Thursday, a few days before the rest of the South African tour party.

Willie le Roux returns at fullback while Cheslin Kolbe is drafted in on the right wing. Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am form a familiar looking midfield pairing and they will play next to Handré Pollard (flyhalf) and Faf de Klerk (scrumhalf).

Vermeulen, Du Toit and Kwagga Smith (flanker) form the loose trio, with the former Blitzbok speedster set to earn his second start in the Green and Gold following his international debut last year against Wales in Washington.

Franco Mostert partners Etzebeth in the second row and Malcolm Marx (hooker) is joined in the front row by Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe.

The forward bench consists of Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, RG Snyman and Francois Louw, while Herschel Jantjies, Frans Steyn and Jesse Kriel are the replacement backs.

Saturday’s much-anticipated Test is a rematch of last year’s epic clash between the two countries, which the Springboks won 36-34 in the Cake Tin.

Erasmus said the Boks will not be carried away by their home win over the Wallabies, which was South Africa’s biggest win over Australia in the last five years.

The Boks only have two Tests left in the shortened Castle Lager Rugby Championship, and two more internationals against Argentina and Japan, before the start of the Rugby World Cup in September, and Erasmus is looking forward to seeing what his team can do against the defending world champions.

“We have the outmost respect for the All Blacks who are the undisputed number one rugby team in the world,” said Erasmus.

“We know we will have to be at our very best to be competitive against the All Blacks on Saturday and that is why we have sent a group of players in advance to Wellington, so they could acclimatise after the long trip over from South Africa.

“The New Zealanders are a very experienced and settled side while we have some catching up to do in terms of where the two sides are at the moment.

“They are bringing back their Crusaders players, who were all rested after the Vodacom Super Rugby final, so we are in for a huge battle against the best team in the world,” added Erasmus.

Regarding the decision to hand the leadership duties to Vermeulen, Erasmus said: “It is important that we continue to build on our leadership for this important year, especially while our regular skipper, Siya Kolisi, is out of action because of injury rehabilitation.

“Duane is an experienced captain and we have a strong group of leaders in the team, which includes Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit, who have both captained the Springboks before, as well as a number of other franchise captains.”

The Springbok team to face New Zealand in Wellington:

  1. Willie le Roux (Wasps, England), 53 caps – 60 points (12 tries)
  2. Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse, France), 7 – 10 (2t)
  3. Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks), 6 – 5 (1t)
  4. Damian de Allende (DHL Stormers), 37 – 20 (4t)
  5. Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks), 5 – 20 (4t)
  6. Handré Pollard (Vodacom Bulls), 39 – 339 (4t, 59c, 64p, 3d)
  7. Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks, England), 21 – 15 (3t)
  8. Duane Vermeulen (Vodacom Bulls, captain), 46 – 15 (3t)
  9. Pieter-Steph du Toit (DHL Stormers), 47 – 20 (4t)
  10. Kwagga Smith (Emirates Lions), 1 – 0
  11. Franco Mostert (Gloucester, England), 29 – 5 (1t)
  12. Eben Etzebeth (DHL Stormers), 76 – 15 (3t)
  13. Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers), 29 – 0
  14. Malcolm Marx (Emirates Lions), 24 – 20 (4t)
  15. Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers), 37 – 5 (1t)
    Replacements:
  16. Bongi Mbonambi (DHL Stormers), 27 – 15 (3t)
  17. Tendai Mtawarira (Cell C Sharks), 108 – 10 (2t)
  18. Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls), 38 – 5 (1t)
  19. RG Snyman (Vodacom Bulls), 12 – 0
  20. Francois Louw (Bath, England), 66 – 45 (9t)
  21. Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers), 1 – 10 (2t)
  22. Frans Steyn (Montpellier, France), 57 – 132 (10t, 5c, 21p, 3d)
  23. Jesse Kriel (Vodacom Bulls), 41 – 60 (12t)


Facts and stats:

Springbok records against New Zealand at Westpac Stadium

Played 7; Won 1; Lost 6; Drawn 0; Points for 115; Points against 214; Tries for 14; Tries against 25; Wins 14%

Team records against New Zealand:
• Most points: 36 – 15 September 2018 (the 36 points conceded by New Zealand were their most ever against any opponent on home soil)
• Most tries: 5 – 15 September 2018
• Most conversions: 4 – 15 September 2018
• Most penalty goals: 1 – On five occasions
• Most drop goals: 1 – 20 July 2002 and 13 September 2014


Individual records against New Zealand:
• Most points: 11 – H Pollard – 15 September 2018
• Most tries: 2 – AO Dyantyi – 15 September 2018
• Most conversions: 4 – H Pollard – 15 September 2018
• Most penalty goals: 1 – By five players
• Most drop goals: 1 – WW Greeff –20 July 2002 and H Pollard – 13 September 2014


Springbok records against all opponents at Westpac Stadium

Played 10; Won 3; Lost 3; Drawn 0; Points for 190; Points against 244; Tries for 22; Tries against 27; Wins 30%


Team records:
• Most points: 49 v Fiji – 17 September 2011
• Most tries: 6 v Fiji – 17 September 2011
• Most conversions: 5 v Fiji – 17 September 2011
• Most penalty goals: 2 v Australia – 9 October 2011
• Most drop goals: 1 on three occasions


Individual records:
• Most points: 21 by M Steyn (t, 5c, 2p) v Fiji – 17 September 2011
• Most tries: 2 by AO Dyantyi v New Zealand – 15 September 2018
• Most conversions: 5 by M Steyn v Fiji – 17 September 2011
• Most penalty goals: 2 by M Steyn v Fiji – 17 September 2011 and v Australia – 9 October, 2011
• Most drop goals: 1 by each of WW Greeff v New Zealand – 20 July 2002; M Steyn v Australia – 9 October 2011 and H Pollard v New Zealand – 13 September 2014


Miscellaneous:
• The total test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is 457. There are 168 caps in the backline with 289 caps amongst the forwards. On the bench there are a further 350 caps.
• The average number of caps per player in the backline are 24, the forwards 36 while the players on the bench average 44 caps. The average age of the starting fifteen is 27.
• Eben Etzebeth is the third most capped lock with 77 Test matches. Victor Matfield (127) and Bakkies Botha (85) are the most capped locks.


Milestones and Records:
• Tendai Mtawarira is the second most capped Springbok in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship with 51 appearances. Bryan Habana holds the records with 53 appearances.
• Should a successful drop goal be kicked by a Springbok in this Test match, it will be the 30th drop goal against New Zealand in the history of Test match rugby between the two countries.


Match Officials:
• The referee is Nic Berry of Australia and this will be his 10th Test match as a referee, but his first involving South Africa.
• The assistant referees are Angus Gardner of Australia and Shuhei Kubo of Japan, while Rowan Kitt (England) is the TMO.

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