South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber has named an unchanged team for the Rugby World Cup semi-final against England in Paris on Saturday (8pm UK time kick-off); Eight of the Springboks team started in the win over England in the final four years ago
Last Updated: 19/10/23 8:25am
Jacques Nienaber has named an unchanged South Africa team for Saturday’s Rugby World Cup semi-final showdown against England in Paris.
The reigning champions booked their place in the final four with a 29-28 victory over hosts France in the quarter-finals last Sunday and have opted to stick with the same team for the rematch of the final four years ago.
It is only the second time Nienaber and director of rugby Rassie Erasmus have named an unchanged South Africa side in the 64 Tests they have been in charge.
“We’ve been building a quality Rugby World Cup squad for the last few years so that we could be in this position going into the knockout matches,” Nienaber said.
“We have a squad of 33 players, all of whom are very closely matched in terms of their skill and quality of play which made it tempting to make changes this week and it was tough to select this group both last week and this week.
“But we feel it’s now time to go with the players in the squad who we believe are in their best form.”
Eight of South Africa’s team – Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Duane Vermeulen, Bongi Mbonambi, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Damian de Allende and Cheslin Kolbe – started the 32-12 win over England in the 2019 World Cup final.
Nienaber hopes that experience will come in useful again at the Stade de France, although he expects a stiff challenge from Steve Borthwick’s side who come into the match as the only undefeated team still in the tournament.
“They come off five victories in a row and they are high on confidence,” Nienaber said. “They have a quality pack and world-class backs who can create magic on the field, and those who are writing them off are making a major mistake.
“Like us, they are one game away from a World Cup final and we’ve seen through the history of the tournament that England raise their game for these matches. If we lose, we have to play the third-place playoff – which no team wants to do.
“We are closely matched in terms of average player age and caps, both teams are used to playing on the biggest stage. This is do-or-die if either of wants to the lift the trophy next week, so neither side will give an inch.”
South Africa team to face England
15 Damian Willemse, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Cobus Reinach; 1 Steven Kitshoff, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 3 Frans Malherbe, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 5 Franco Mostert, 6 Siya Kolisi, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 8 Duane Vermeulen.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Handre Pollard, 23 Willie le Roux.