'Playing alongside Mtawarira in his 100th Test will be an honour‚' says Malherbe

14 June 2018 - 16:03 By Liam Del Carme
Tendai Mtawarira of South Africa will play his 100th Test for the Springboks against England on Saturday June 16 2018.
Tendai Mtawarira of South Africa will play his 100th Test for the Springboks against England on Saturday June 16 2018.
Image: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Test rugby‚ it is often suggested‚ is a game of inches and in full anticipation of an England backlash in the second Test‚ the Springboks have slightly upsized their pack.

The introduction of Frans Malherbe at tighthead and Pieter-Steph du Toit at flank will add five and six centremetres respectively to the Bok forward unit‚ as Wilco Louw and Jean-Luc du Preez vacate the starting team.

On the bench Jesse Kriel makes a return‚ while Elton Jantjies drops out of the match day 23.

“With Jesse we just feel that when the game opened up last week we needed some speed out there and Jesse covers obviously centre and the outside backs as well‚” said Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus.

Malherbe returns after recovering from a neck injury that made him a long term absentee. The last time he played for the Boks was against France in Durban last year.

He cracks the nod at the expense of Louw who has had to carry a heavy workload this season. In Malherbe’s absence at the Stormers‚ Louw has had to see more combat than he should have.

“Wilco has just been playing every single minute so I guess he is pretty punch drunk‚” Erasmus bluntly put forward his rationale.

Du Toit makes a return to the starting team but not in his customary position in the second row.

He is quite adept on the side of the scrum but it is his wrecking ball runs and robust defence that earns him the nod in the loose trio.

Du Preez who was less influential in the first Test in Johannesburg drops to the bench.

With Jantjies dropping out‚ Willie le Roux will provide cover at flyhalf.

As expected also in the starting line-up is Tendai Mtawarira who will play his 100th Test for the Springboks on Saturday.

He will become the eighth prop to play in 100 Tests and the sixth Springbok to reach the milestone after Percy Montgomery (in 2008)‚ John Smit‚ Victor Matfield (both in 2010)‚ Bryan Habana and Jean de Villiers (both in 2014).

“Much like a typical front rower‚ ‘Beast’ is not someone who likes the spotlight‚” said Erasmus.

“However‚ his contribution to Springbok rugby during the past decade has been enormous and I want to congratulate him on reaching 100 Test caps for South Africa.

“It is a special achievement and while he deserves the accolades‚ I know he will be totally focussed on the most important job‚ and that is to face an extremely determined England side on Saturday in Bloem.”

Malherbe also paid tribute to his durable teammate.

“I think it is an amazing achievement for Beast. I’m very proud of him.

"What an honour to play alongside him in his 100th Test. He was there when I made my debut. I’ll do anything to make it special for him on Saturday. “

Springboks to play England:

Willie le Roux; S’Busiso Nkosi‚ Lukhanyo Am‚ Damian de Allende‚ Aphiwe Dyantyi; Handre Pollard‚ Faf de Klerk; Duane Vermeulen‚ Pieter-Steph du Toit‚ Siya Kolisi (captain); Franco Mostert‚ RG Snyman; Frans Malherbe‚ Bongi Mbonambi‚ Tendai Mtawarira.

Substitutes:

Akker van der Merwe‚ Steven Kitshoff‚ Thomas du Toit‚ Jean-Luc du Preez‚ Sikhumbuzo Notshe; Ivan van Zyl‚ Jesse Kriel‚ Warrick Gelant.

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