Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber showed faith in his match-winning Rugby World Cup quarter-final squad by retaining the same starting XV and replacements’ bench for Saturday’s semi-final against England at the Stade de France in Paris.
The selection is the most experienced in Springbok history – with a combined total of 895 caps – with 15 of the 23 having played against England in the 32-12 victory in the RWC final four years ago in Japan when the Boks lifted the Webb Ellis Cup for the third time.
It is also only the second time that Nienaber (and director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus) 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 was lost 13-23 to New Zealand.
Nienaber opted for the same squad following the performance in the quarter-final against France last week in Paris when the starting team laid a solid foundation, while the bench made a significant impact to edge the match 29-28 for a place in the semi-final.
Manie Libbok and Cobus Reinach will control play at halfback, with centres Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel returning 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 Faf de Klerk (scrumhalf), Handre Pollard (flyhalf), and Willie le Roux (fullback).
The winner of the match will play either Argentina or New Zealand in the final at the Stade de France on Saturday, 28 October.
South Africa: Willemse; Arendse, Kriel, De Allende, Kolbe; Libbok, Reinach; Kitshoff, Mbonambi, Malherbe, Etzebeth, Mostert, Kolisi (capt), Du Toit, Vermeulen.
Replacements: Fourie, Nche, Koch, Snyman, Smith, De Klerk, Pollard, Le Roux.