Jannie du Plessis and Morné Steyn will reach the special milestone of playing in their 50th Tests for South Africa against the Qantas Wallabies at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday in Round Four of the Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship.
Adriaan Strauss and Fourie du Preez have been promoted to the Springbok starting line-up.
It will be the second time in Springbok history that two players will earn their 50th caps in the same Test – on 1 August 2009 Jean de Villiers and Bryan Habana, now the two most experienced members of the squad, reached this special milestone together against New Zealand in Durban.
Du Plessis and Steyn will become the 25th and 26th Springboks to play in 50 Tests for South Africa. Steyn also needs two points to move to 600 Test points for the Boks – he is currently on 598 in his 49 Tests to date.
The last Springbok to play in his 50th Test was Jannie’s brother Bismarck du Plessis, against Argentina in Mendoza last month, which means they will become the first set of brothers ever to play in 50 Tests for South Africa.
As part of a planned rotational switch, Strauss and Du Preez – who will start his first Test for the Springboks since the 2011 Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Australia in New Zealand – come in for Bismarck du Plessis and Ruan Pienaar respectively, who will both start the Test against Australia on the bench.
The rest of the team that played against New Zealand in Auckland is unchanged.
“We’re all very pleased for Jannie and Morné, who are great ambassadors for South Africa and the Springboks,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
“They have endured through difficult times but have shown a lot of resilience and that is why they have made it to this special milestone. It’s well-deserved and a privilege only a very small percentage of Springboks have achieved.”
Regarding the changes to the team, Meyer said: “The players all knew what the plans were for the Rugby Championships and where they stand. We were always going to rotate players where possible and planned to start this Test with Adriaan and Fourie.
“We know we’re in for a big challenge against Australia. The players have been working very hard and we’re looking forward to playing in front of our own supporters at DHL Newlands on Saturday – it’s always special to play Tests in South Africa,” added Meyer.
This will be the Springboks’ 50th Test at DHL Newlands since 1891 – the first stadium in South Africa to host 50 Tests. In the previous 49 Tests, South Africa have won 33, lost 14 and two were drawn for a winning percentage of 67%. The Springboks scored 938 points (122 tries) with 593 points against them (63 tries) – average score 19-12.
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The Springbok team to face Australia in Cape Town is:
Willie le Roux
Jean de Villiers (captain)
Fourie du Preez
Flip van der Merwe
Jannie du Plessis
Bismarck du Plessis
Stats and facts:
· The Springbok starting team boasts a total of 566 Test caps (334 in the backline and 232 in the forwards), while there a further 229 caps worth of experience on the bench.
· South Africa and Australia have played each other 77 times since 1933, with the Springboks winning 43 Tests, losing 33 and one was drawn. The Springboks have scored 1473 points and 176 tries and conceded 1349 points and 138 tries for an average score of 19-18.
· Jean de Villiers will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok centre, with 76 Tests in this position.
· Bryan Habana will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok wing, with 89 Tests in this position and if he scores a try, will extend his record of 51 Test tries for South Africa. Bryan also just needs one try to equal the Castle Lager Rugby Championship / Tri-Nations record of Christian Cullen (New Zealand) who scored 16 tries in his career in this competition. He can also extend his own SA record of nine career tries against Australia.
· Morné Steyn will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok flyhalf, with 48 Tests in this position. If he scores a try, he will also extend his record of seven Test tries as a flyhalf for South Africa. Steyn scored 124 points in his career against Australia, just 16 points short of Percy Montgomery’s record of 140 points. He needs two penalty goals to equal Percy Montgomery’s career record of 31 penalties against Australia. He will also extend his own career records of 14 conversions and three drop goals against Australia. Steyn is currently on 598 career Test points and can become only the second Springbok to score more than 600 points in Tests.
· Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis will extend their SA record of playing together in 29 Tests for South Africa. If he scores a try Bismarck will also extend his own record of eight Test tries for South Africa as a hooker.
· The Du Plessis brothers will become the first set of Springbok brothers to both play in 50 Tests for their country and the fifth pair of brothers worldwide. The others are Mauro (94) and Mirco (89) Bergamasco (Italy); Scott (67) and Gavin (67) Hastings (both Scotland and the British & Irish Lions); Massimo (69) and Marcello (54) Cuttitta (Italy) and Robin (62) and Zinzan (58) Brooke (New Zealand).
· If he goes on and scores a try, Gurthrö Steenkamp will extend his own record of six tries as a prop for South Africa.
· The referee is Jerome Garces of France. This will be his first Test involving South Africa.
· Springbok Test match records at DHL Newlands :
o Most points – 35 by Percy Montgomery (1t, 12c, 2p) against Namibia on 15 August 2007.
o Most tries – three each by Tom van Vollenhoven on 20 August 1955 (against the British Lions), Andre Snyman on 10 June 1977 (against Tonga), Schalk Burger and Juan Smith on 15 August 2007 (both against Namibia).
o Most conversions – 12 by Percy Montgomery against Namibia on 15 August 2007.
o Most penalty goals – seven by Percy Montgomery against France on 24 June 2006 and by Morné Steyn against Australia on 8 August 2009.
o Most drop goals – two by Naas Botha against the New Zealand Cavaliers on 10 May 1986 and by Frans Steyn against Australia on 16 June 2007.