Heyneke Meyer has reunited the World Cup winning second row partnership of Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha for the Springboks’ game against the World XV this weekend. Matfield captains the side in Jean de Villiers’ absence.
Cornal Hendricks is in line to make his first appearance in the green and gold, with JP Pietersen moving to outside centre. Schalk Burger makes his return to the squad for the first time in two and half years on the bench, where Schalk Brits is also included after a lengthy period in the wilderness.
Morné Steyn partners Ruan Pienaar at half-back, with Johan Goosen and Fourie du Preez on the bench.
“It’s positive to have this kind of continuity in our first start of the year,” Meyer said on Wednesday. “Even though we’ll be starting with a new midfield combination, Frans and JP have both played more than 50 Tests for the Boks and with Bryan Habana also in the backline, Cornal will start with a lot of experience around him.
“We’re expecting a stern test on Saturday against the World XV and our mindset is to make our nation proud – it should never be anything else when the Springboks play. It will also be a good way to start the season before our first Test next week against Wales, but for now we’re only focused on the World XV and playing well.
“Our aim for the season is to accelerate and make a step up from 2013. To put ourselves in a position to do that, we simply have to start well.”
South Africa team to play World XV:
15 Willie le Roux 14 Cornal Hendricks 13 JP Pietersen 12 Frans Steyn 11 Bryan Habana 10 Morné Steyn 9 Ruan Pienaar 8 Duane Vermeulen 7 Willem Alberts 6 Francois Louw 5 Victor Matfield (captain) 4 Bakkies Botha 3 Jannie du Plessis 2 Bismarck du Plessis 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits 17 Gurthrö Steenkamp 18 Coenie Oosthuizen 19 Flip van der Merwe 20 Schalk Burger 21 Fourie du Preez 22 Johan Goosen 23 Lwazi Mvovo