Boks, England fighting brawn with brawn
The Springboks are going to fight brawn with brawn after coach Allister Coetzee picked a monstrous pack to match England at Twickenham tomorrow.
Pieter-Steph du Toit, all 2m and 115kg of him, will start at flank, with human battering ram Willem Alberts operating on the other side of the scrum.
Du Toit will wear seven and Alberts No 6, but that will be irrelevant as neither will be a specialist openside.
It is a case of everyone mucking in at the breakdown while the pair will be strong target runners.
“I’ve selected the best possible team to supply us with possession and go forward. The gainline will be the key battle,” Coetzee said.
“This game can’t be played without some form of physicality and without gain-line dominance.”
“You have to earn that and I believe this pack of forwards suits the way we want to play this game. Pieter-Steph has played exceptionally well, has a phenomenal work rate and he has played a lot at flank.”
“He runs great lines so he is suited to that role. Willem is experienced and has been to Twickenham before and performed well here as well.”
Du Toit will also bolster the lineout and, with Lood de Jager starting in the second row, captain and hooker Adriaan Strauss will have many options in the set piece.
England coach Eddie Jones knew what was coming when he named his team a couple of hours before the Boks.
He unsurprisingly picked a huge back row as well, with Tom Wood coming in to play openside.
And like the Boks, the English team does not have a specialist openside – a factor that neither camp seems overly concerned about for this encounter.
“Have South Africa ever picked an openside?” Jones asked with a twinkle in his eye.
“They give an ‘openside’ No 6 and can’t even get the number right. “Our number seven is all about the defensive effort. “It’s all about stopping the opposition getting to the gainline.”
“He [Wood] knows his job, has worked very hard to get back into the team, is an experienced player and he has really been a welcome addition to the squad.”
Coetzee also handed a first test cap to centre Francois Venter, who will become Springbok No 877 and the 45th Bok from Bloemfontein’s Grey College.
“Having worked with Francois for the last three weeks, I was impressed with his organisational skills and leadership,” he said.
“He’s an experienced player, having played a lot of Super Rugby with the Bulls and Cheetahs. He also understands the defensive role.”
“It’s also a form of continuity because we only have five or so players carrying over from the Barbarians match so it was important to keep halfbacks Rudy Paige and Pat Lambie together as well as Francois.”
Teams: Springboks: 15-Willie le Roux, 14-Ruan Combrinck, 13-Francois Venter, 12-Damian de Allende, 11- JP Pietersen, 10-Pat Lambie, 9-Rudy Paige, 8-Warren Whiteley, 7-Pieter- Steph du Toit, 6-Willem Alberts, 5-Lood de Jager, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Vincent Koch, 2-Adriaan Strauss (capt), 1-Tendai Mtawarira. 16-Bongi Mbonambi, 17-Steven Kitshoff, 18-Lourens Adriaanse, 19-Franco Mostert, 20-Nizaam Carr, 21-Faf de Klerk, 22-Johan Goosen, 23-Lionel Mapoe.
England: 15 Mike Brown 14 Marland Yarde, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Jonny May, 10. George Ford, 9. Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Mako Vunipola. Reserves: 16 Jamie George, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Dave Attwood, 20 Nathan Hughes, 21 Danny Care, 22 Ben Te’o, 23 Jonathan Joseph