South Africa continue their Autumn series, or End of Year Tour as they call it, with a visit to Toulouse to take on the French this evening.
The South of France is a notoriously difficult place to visit, and with seven Toulouse players lining up for the national team, there’s a good chance that the crowd will be somewhat partisan.
Marc Lievremont has picked a familiar side, and much of the focus will be on the forwards to try to limit the quality of South Africa’s possession – the back row of Thierry Dusautoir, Imanol Harinordoquy and Louis Picamoles will be crucial if France are to put any pressure on the opposition.
Captain Dusautoir has said that he’s desperate to start beating the Southern Hemisphere teams on a regular basis, and will want to build on their impressive victory over New Zealand in the summer.
South Africa will be without three of their stars in Jean de Villiers, Francois Steyn and Pierre Spies, but Fourie du Preez and Morne Steyn will still orchestrate the side if they enjoy the sort of ball that their forwards normally provide – it’s up to the French back to put a stop to it, and if they do that, they can put their own width on the ball with their exciting backline.
It’s likely to be an epic contest which really could go either way. I can’t see a big winning margin for either team, and I’m backing France for a marginal victory, led by the Toulouse contingent and capitalising on home advantage.
My SportGuru pick: France by 4.
What do you think?
France: 15 Damien Traille, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Yann David, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Cédric Heymans, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Julien Dupuy, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Imanol Harinordoquy, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (c), 5 Romain Millo-Chluski, 4 Lionel Nallet, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 William Servat, 1 Fabien Barcella.
Replacements: 16 Dimitri Szarzewski, 17 Sylvain Marconnet, 18 Sébastien Chabal, 19 Julien Bonnaire, 20 Morgan Parra, 21 David Marty, 22 Maxime Médard.
South Africa: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Adi Jacobs, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 John Smit (c), 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 CJ van der Linde, 19 Andries Bekker, 20 Danie Rossouw, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Wynand Olivier.