Franco Mostert and Jesse Kriel will earn their 50th Test caps when the Springboks line up against Scotland in Edinburgh on Saturday as Elton Jantjies and Willie le Roux return to the starting team, while Frans Steyn is in line to set a new South African record for the longest international rugby career.
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber made two rotational switches and one injury enforced change to the starting side that defeated Wales 23-18. Mostert comes in at lock and Elton Jantjies earns a run at flyhalf, with both Lood de Jager and Handré Pollard moving to the replacements bench.
Le Roux has been named to take over at fullback from Damian Willemse, who has to follow concussion return to play protocols after taking a knock to the head last week.
The match will also be memorable for Steyn, who will edge Victor Matfield as the player with the longest Springbok career by becoming the first South African to play Test rugby over 15 calendar years, should he take the field.
Matfield’s career spanned over 14 years and 122 days, while Steyn – who has been on the winning side in 55 of his 72 Tests and scored 144 points – is in line to increase that mark to 15 years and two days in the second of three Tests in the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour on Saturday.
“Scotland will be a force to be reckoned with at Murrayfield, so it was important for us to maintain continuity within our squad, while at the same time celebrating Jesse and Franco’s 50th caps and giving Elton a chance to start,” said Nienaber.
“Elton has been training very well since the squad assembled before the Castle Lager Lions Series and he’s performed well every time he earned a run, so we thought it was the right time to hand him a start.
“It will be a special day for Jesse and Franco as they run out for their 50th Tests at Murrayfield. They are both fantastic servants of the game and their high work ethic and true team attitude make them vital members of our squad, and we are all delighted to see them achieve this feat.”
The 27-year-old Kriel made his Test debut against Australia in 2015, but Mostert, who turns 31 at the end of the month, had to wait a year longer for his first cap, which was against Ireland in 2016.
Nienaber also lauded Steyn, who, at 34 years old, showed that he still has what it takes to star at the highest level of the game by being named man of the match against Wales last week.
“Playing international rugby for 15 years is an extraordinary achievement and what makes this feat even more remarkable is that Frans continues to show his class despite being at the twilight of his career,” said Nienaber.
“His influence is equally valuable off the field and it is fantastic to have a player of his calibre guide the young players in the squad.”
The Springboks may have only suffered two defeats against Scotland at Murrayfield since 1994 (in 2002 and 2010), but with the home side coming off a morale boosting victory against Australia last weekend, and wins against England, France and Italy in the 2021 Six Nations, Nienaber expected a hard grind of a Test.
“Scotland have a quality team with a number of experienced players and a few British & Irish Lions players, so we are under no illusions about the challenge ahead,” said Nienaber.
“They are a physical side with solid set pieces, but they also have the skills to run the ball, so we’ll have to be accurate on attack and defence.
“We laid a good foundation for the tour in Cardiff last week, and we know what areas we would like to improve on. We created opportunities to score points last week, but we didn’t convert some of them, and we also conceded several penalties, so we need to step up our discipline as well.
“The scrums will of course be a key battle with former Springbok scrum coach Pieter de Villiers now serving that role for Scotland, but that is an area of the game we pride ourselves on too, so we need to be physical and accurate up front.”
Angus Gardner (Australia) has been appointed the match referee and he will be assisted by Wayne Barnes (England) and Craig Evans (Wales), with Brett Cronan (Australia) on TMO duty.
Springbok team to face Scotland in Edinburgh:
15 – Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz) – 70 caps, 60 pts (12t)
14 – Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles) – 49 caps, 60 pts (12t)
13 – Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks) – 24 caps, 25 pts (5t)
12 – Damian de Allende (Munster) – 56 caps, 35 pts (7t)
11 – Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks) – 23 caps, 85 pts (17t)
10 – Elton Jantjies (NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes) – 42 caps, 312 pts (2t, 64c, 57p, 1d)
9 – Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers) – 19 caps, 25 pts (5t)
8 – Duane Vermeulen (Ulster) – 59 caps, 15 pts (3t)
7 – Kwagga Smith (Yamaha Júbilo) – 17 caps, 5 pts (1t)
6 – Siya Kolisi (captain, Cell C Sharks) – 61 caps, 30 pts (6t)
5 – Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) – 49 caps, 5pts (1t)
4 – Eben Etzebeth (Toulon) – 95 caps, 15 pts (3t)
3 – Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls) – 52 caps, 5pts (1t)
2 – Bongi Mbonambi (Cell C Sharks) – 46 caps, 45 pts (9t)
1 – Ox Nché (Cell C Sharks) – 7 caps, 0pts
16 – Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears) – 44 caps, 50 pts (10t)
17 – Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers) – 57 caps, 5pts (1t)
18 – Vincent Koch (Saracens) – 29 caps, 0 pts
19 – Lood de Jager (Sale Sharks) – 54 caps, 25 pts (5t)
20 – Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers) – 9 caps, 0 pts
21 – Cobus Reinach (Montpellier) – 19 caps, 40pts (8t)
22 – Handré Pollard (Montpellier) – 58 caps, 580 pts (6t, 83c, 124p, 4d)
23 – Frans Steyn (Toyota Cheetahs) – 72 caps, 144pts (11t, 7c, 22p, 3d)
Springbok record against Scotland:
Played 27; Won 22; Lost 5; Drawn 0; Points for: 712; Points against 306; Tries scored 88; Tries conceded 30; Highest score 68; Biggest win 58 points; Win % – 81.4%.
- Franco Mostert and Jesse Kriel will earn their 50th Test caps when they take the field.
- Frans Steyn needs six more points to reach 150 career points for the Springboks.
- Bongi Mbonambi needs one try to reach 10 tries and 50 career points.
- The total Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is
- There are 283 caps in the backline with 386 caps amongst the forwards. On the bench there are a further 342
- The average caps per player in the backline are 40, the forwards 48,while the players on the bench average 42.
Munster Confirm Three New Signings
Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to confirm the signing of Oli Jager from the Crusaders with the tighthead prop signing a contract until the summer of 2027.
Hooker Eoghan Clarke is rejoining Munster on a short-term contract with back three player Colm Hogan also returning on a short-term deal.
Jager will join the province in the coming weeks with his contract beginning at the start of December.
Born in London, Jager started out at Naas RFC before playing schools rugby at Newbridge College and Blackrock College. He lined out for the Ireland U18 Schools team in 2013 before moving to Canterbury in New Zealand at the age of 17.
Initially attending the Crusaders International High Performance Unit, he earned a place in the Crusaders Academy in 2014. After impressing with New Brighton RFC, he earned a place in the Canterbury squad for the Mitre 10 Cup in 2016.
Jager made his Super Rugby debut for the Crusaders in 2017 and has been a key member of their squad for the past seven years, winning seven consecutive Super Rugby titles.
Eoghan Clarke spent three years in the Munster Academy before departing for Jersey Reds in March 2021. A former Ireland U20 international, Clarke won the English Championship with Jersey Reds last season before the club went into liquidation last month.
Colm Hogan, who has lined out for Ireland U20 and Munster A in the past, played his schools rugby with Glenstal Abbey. He captained Dublin University in the AIL and also had a spell with Colomiers in the PRO D2 while studying in France.
The 26-year-old played for Leinster against Chile last year and lined out with recent Munster arrival Alex Nankivell for Tasman Mako in the NPC this year.
Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography
Key All Black announces sabbatical to play in Japan
All Blacks captain Sam Cane will take up a sabbatical option in his New Zealand Rugby (NZR) contract in 2024 to play a season for Suntory in Japan League One.
The 31-year-old, 95-Test loose forward will miss the 2024 DHL Super Rugby Pacific season with the Chiefs, but will return to New Zealand in June to be available for selection to the All Blacks for the 2024 Steinlager Series and Rugby Championship campaign.
Cane, who is contracted to NZR through to the end of 2025, said he was looking forward to experiencing a new playing environment with Suntory and learning more about a new culture in Japan.
“When the opportunity to play for Suntory in 2024 came up it felt like the right time following the Rugby World Cup to try something new and also a great chance to continue to grow and learn in my rugby and life journey. I’m grateful to New Zealand Rugby for their support to take this opportunity.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to skip a season with the Chiefs, but I know the team is in a great place and has an incredible group of leaders in the squad and the coaching group to have a successful 2024, and I’m really pleased to be able to return in time to put my best foot forward for selection in the All Blacks.”
NZR CEO Mark Robinson said:
“Sam’s decision to take a sabbatical in 2024 has our full support and we wish him and his family all the best for their time in Japan. There are very few players who have given as much as he has to the jerseys he’s worn in his career to date and it’s a mark of his commitment to the All Blacks that he will return and make himself available for the Test season.”
Gallagher Chiefs Head Coach Clayton McMillan said:
“Sam has given everything to this team on and off the field and deserves to take this opportunity to experience something different. He is an exceptional player and influential leader who has been an integral part of the Gallagher Chiefs for many years. We wish him and his family all the best and hope they enjoy their time in Japan after a full-on year.”
Key All Black commits to Gallagher Chiefs until 2025
Dominant loose forward Luke Jacobson has extended his contract with the Gallagher Chiefs, Waikato and New Zealand Rugby until the end of 2025.
The 18-test All Black was a consistent starter for the Gallagher Chiefs this year and a key element of their outstanding DHL Super Rugby Pacific performances. He consequently went on to be named in the All Blacks squad to travel to France.
Gallagher Chiefs head coach Clayton McMillan is delighted to have Jacobson sticking around for another two seasons.
“Luke is an outstanding player; he’s a workhorse, a consistent performer and considered a real warrior within our group. Luke leads by example both on and off the field. He isnt one to waste words and prefers to let his actions speak for themself. In the absence of some senior players who have moved on, I have no doubt Luke will play an integral part providing the leadership and guidance our younger players will be looking for”.
Jacobson has impressed throughout his career, playing for the New Zealand U20s team twice and captaining them in his second season to win the 2017 U20 World Championship title. This aptitude for leadership has seen him pull on the Gallagher Chiefs captain’s armband on multiple occasions.
Waikato Rugby head coach Ross Filipo is excited about Luke extending his career with Waikato. “He is a great man and a great leader who continues to make huge contributions on and off the field and always represents the region with pride.”
Speaking on his signing Jacobson said: “I’m stoked to signing on with the Waikato, Chiefs and NZR for another two years. I love representing these teams and am very proud to be able to call myself a Waikato/Chiefs man and also and All black. I’m hungry to succeed with these teams and tick off a few unticked boxes.”
The 2024 Gallagher Chiefs squad will be named later this year ahead of assembling for pre-season training.