S.Africa name unchanged team, most experienced in Bok history, for EnglandThu, 19 Oct 2023 10:37:20 GMT

South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber has named an unchanged matchday 23, the most experienced in Springbok history, from the one that edged France to play England in the World Cup semi-final on Saturday.The selection boasts a combined total of 895 caps, with 15 of the 23 having played the 2019 World Cup final against England, which the Boks won 32-12.It is also only the second time that Nienaber and director of rugby Rassie Erasmus have named an identical line-up in 64 Tests since they took charge of the team in 2018.The only other occasion was in the opening match of the 2019 tournament, which they lost 23-13 to New Zealand.Manie Libbok and Cobus Reinach are again named at half-back for the game in Paris, with World Cup winners Handre Pollard and Faf de Klerk on the bench, as they were for the Boks’ thrilling 29-28 victory over hosts France in the quarter-final.Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel start in midfield, with a back three of Cheslin Kolbe, Kurt-Lee Arendse and Damian Willemse.Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe and Bongi Mbonambi will pack down in the front row, with locks Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert behind them, and the loose trio of Bok skipper Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Duane Vermeulen completing the forward pack.The replacements’ bench features forwards Deon Fourie (hooker/flanker), Ox Nche and Vincent Koch (props), RG Snyman (lock), Kwagga Smith (loose forward), and three backs in De Klerk (scrum-half), Pollard (fly-half), and Willie le Roux (fullback).”We’ve been building a quality Rugby World Cup squad for the last few years so that we could be in this position going into the knockout matches,” said Nienaber.”We have a squad of 33 players, all of whom are very closely matched in terms of their skill and quality of play which made it tempting to make changes this week and it was tough to select this group both last week and this week.”But we feel it’s now time to go with the players in the squad who we believe are in their best form.”- ‘Everybody becomes entitled’ -Eight of the team started against England in the 2019 final while another seven other players from that match are also in the 23.”This may not have much significance, but the fact remains that these players have been here before, and they know what it will take to defeat a top-quality team such as England,” said Nienaber.”That’s the thing with an older team — you gain experience but you sometimes lose continuity because their bodies have had a couple of knocks more.” Springboks captain Siya Kolisi said what had most moved him was how the country had taken to the team and their campaign.”I wish you could see all the support back at home,” said the 32-year-old Springbok icon.”The kids at schools are sending us clips of them singing because they know some of us like singing.”People at work on Fridays are wearing their green jerseys.”The beautiful thing to see is people wear anything that is green or something that represents the Springboks.”We see that and that will continuously be our motivation.”As for whether South Africa feel “entitled” and merit a record fourth Webb Ellis trophy, Nienaber replied: “We all become entitled at some stage.””The moment you become entitled, you expect things,” he said.”You don’t work for them, you expect things to come your way because of who you are. You walk into a restaurant, (saying) ‘Is there for a table for me? Do you know who I am?'”No. So you are fooled. It goes through cycles.”Everybody becomes entitled, but just don’t stay there too long,” added the 51-year-old, who will leave his post after the World Cup to coach Irish province Leinster.Team (15-1)Damian Willemse; Kurt-Lee Arendse, Jesse Kriel, Damian De Allende, Cheslin Kolbe; Manie Libbok, Cobus Reinach; Duane Vermeulen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (capt); Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth; Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Steven KitshoffReplacements: Deon Fourie, Ox Nche, Vincent Koch, RG Snyman, Kwagga Smith, Faf de Klerk, Handre Pollard, Willie le RouxCoach: Jacques Nienaber (RSA)