Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Wednesday named the same starting line-up that beat New Zealand a month ago to face Ireland in the opening Test of the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour on Dublin on Saturday.
The only change to the match-day squad is at replacement prop, where the injured Marcel van der Merwe is replaced by Coenie Oosthuizen.
“Although Julian Redelinghuys was also considered, he’s still new in the team and not familiar with our patterns of play and especially the line-out calls, while Coenie knows the way we play well,” said Meyer.
“Coenie is also in great shape and we know what he can do, especially if he has to make an impact off the bench. It’s good to have him back.”
Meyer was very happy with the continuity in selection from the last Test.
“It’s only the fifth time in what will be the 34th Test since I was appointed as Springbok coach that we’ve been able to select an unchanged starting line-up,” said Meyer.
“In this day and age, not making changes to teams is pretty much unheard of, but this is a great position we’re in. However, we need to make it count against a very tough Irish side on Saturday.
“Although we won our last Test, the challenge this week is to make another step up. It’s imperative that we improve in all facets of our play.”
Ruan Pienaar, meanwhile, has been ruled out of the tour because of a knee ligament injury and will be replaced by Jano Vermaak.
Pienaar picked up the injury in the Springboks’ Test against New Zealand in Wellington in September and has been out of action since then.
“Ruan was re-assessed on Tuesday morning following the on-field fitness tests from Monday, and unfortunately he has developed some swelling and puffiness around the knee, indicating that he is not yet ready to partake in full training and playing in a match,” said Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts.
“He needs a few more weeks of rehabilitation before he’ll be ready to return to play and hence we’ve taken the decision to rule him out of the tour.”
Meyer said he felt for Pienaar.
“We’ll miss his experience, especially when it comes to playing rugby in the Northern Hemisphere, but luckily Jano knows our structures and should not have a problem to slot back in,” said Meyer.
“The decision to bring in Jano was because he is familiar with our structures and is also very experienced, especially since Cobus Reinach is still in his first season of Test rugby.
“There are a number of good young scrumhalves in South Africa, but to bring someone in who has not yet trained with us in a pivotal position such as scrumhalf would’ve been a risk.”
Vermaak, who played in three Tests in 2013 and has been part of the squad for most of the previous two seasons, will join the Springbok squad in Dublin by Wednesday.
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Bakkies Botha, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 JP Pietersen.
Date: Saturday, November 8
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Kick-off: 19.30 SA time
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Mathieu Raynal (France), Alexandre Ruiz (France)
TMO: Jim Yuille (Scotland)