Springboks: Evan Roos gets nod at number eight for blockbuster game against England

Springboks number eight Evan Roos Credit: Alamy
Springboks number eight Evan Roos Credit: Alamy

South Africa have handed Evan Roos a start at number eight for their final Autumn Nations Series clash with England at Twickenham on Saturday.

There are eight changes and two positional tweaks made by head coach Jacques Nienaber, as South Africa shuffle their deck for this mouth-watering showdown.

Six of those alterations come in the starting XV as Jesse Kriel (centre), Makazole Mapimpi (wing), Roos (number eight) and Eben Etzebeth (lock) come back in.

Switch for De Allende and Arendse

Elsewhere, Damian de Allende moves from outside centre to inside centre where he links up with Kriel, and Kurt-Lee Arendse moves to right wing this weekend.

There’s also tweaks on the bench with Thomas du Toit (prop), Marco van Staden (flanker), Jaden Hendrikse (scrum-half) and Canan Moodie (wing) brought in.

This follows the unavailability of Cheslin Kolbe, Andre Esterhuizen, Cobus Reinach, Jasper Wiese and Vincent Koch, who have all gone back to their club sides.

“With this Test falling outside the international Test window, we knew we would have to make changes to the team, but we are pleased with the depth we have built in the wider squad in the last few months, and it is paying off for us this week,” said Nienaber.

“Every player in this squad has played Test rugby, and most of them have received game time at this level thanks our selection plan throughout the season and the SA ‘A’ games against Munster and Bristol.

“We are very excited to see what this group of players will do against a quality England side given the mix of talented young players who have been putting up their hands and the experienced guys who have come a long way with us over the last few years.”

Nienaber added: “As with all competitions we can only select a limited number of players, so we have had to be creative with balancing building player combinations and giving the young players a chance to show us what they can do at top Test level and this game gives us a golden opportunity to do so.

“It doesn’t get bigger than playing against England at a packed Twickenham in the last Test of the season for a player, and one can sense the excitement among the players about this occasion.”

The Springboks coach knows what to expect from England after their impressive finish against New Zealand and predicts an “epic encounter at Twickenham.

“England will enter this match with the same mindset as us – to finish the season on a high note after a tough November campaign, and to build momentum with an eye on the World Cup,” said Nienaber.

Going to be an epic encounter

“So, we are expecting them to throw everything they have at us. They are a well-balanced team with a strong pack of forwards and exciting backs, and they are well coached, so we know it is going to be an epic encounter.

“We lost against them by one point in our last two matches at Twickenham and the last time we beat them in London was in 2014, so we have to be accurate in all areas of our game, effective in our execution and we need to covert our chances into points.

“This is the last time the squad will be together in competition until next June, so the players really want to make the most of this opportunity and to make the country proud.

“We had two narrow defeats against the top two teams in the world in Ireland and France and we defeated Italy, and it would be fantastic if we could finish the tour on a high note.”

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Marco van Staden, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Jaden Hendrikse, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Canan Moodie

Date: Saturday, November 26
Venue: Twickenham
Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Referee: Angus Gardner (RA)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Brace (IRFU), Pierre Brousset (FFR)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (WRU)

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