LONDON – Ivan van Zyl will start just his second Test match after being named at scrumhalf for the Springboks’ opening November international against England at Twickenham.
Because Saturday’s match at Twickenham falls outside World Rugby’s official November window for internationals, South Africa have been unable to select their overseas-based players.
That means fullback Willie le Roux and scrumhalf Faf de Klerk, who play in the English Premiership for Wasps and Sale respectively, miss out with their places taken by Damian Willemse and van Zyl respectively.
Van Zyl’s only Test start to date came against Wales in Washington DC in June, and he has made three Springbok appearances in total.
Embrose Papier, who had been South Africa’s reserve scrumhalf for their previous two Tests, remains on the bench despite De Klerk’s absence.
“I just think conditions and the tactical way England will play, maybe Ivan is a better fit for the start,” Bok coach Rassie Erasmus told reporters in London on Thursday when asked why he had opted for Blue Bulls No 9 Van Zyl over Papier.
“Embrose is a more instinctive player, which is great on the hard ground, and he’ll definitely have an impact on this game.
“But I thought in these conditions and the way we want to play against England, it was worth going with Ivan.”
In all, South Africa made seven changes to their starting XV since that agonising 32-30 defeat to the All Blacks in Pretoria.
Willemse will be winning his fourth cap, but making his maiden Test start after three appearances off the bench.
“Damian is very comfortable in the set-up,” said Erasmus.
“We have always had Willie le Roux available previously, but Damian deserves his chance now.
Rassie Erasmus, the SA Director of Rugby, said the Twickenham showdown will be a huge test of character for his side.
“England will be desperate to win this one at Twickenham and they will select a formidable side. This match will be a huge tactical affair. " pic.twitter.com/4OAl3KKzif
“With the World Cup in mind, it’s going to be good for the whole team,” Erasmus explained, with Twickenham set to be full to its 82 000 capacity as both sides begin their countdown to next year’s global showpiece in Japan.
“He’s going to play in front of a full house, with lots of pressure and a tough kicking game,” the coach added of Willemse.
“So, we’ll learn a lot about him, and he deserves his chance.”
15 Damian Willemse 14 Sbu Nkosi 13 Jesse Kriel 12 Damian de Allende 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi 10 Handré Pollard 9 Ivan van Zyl 8 Warren Whiteley 7 Duane Vermeulen 6 Siya Kolisi (captain) 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit 4 Eben Etzebeth 3 Frans Malherbe 2 Malcolm Marx 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Bench: 16 Bongi Mbonambi 17 Thomas du Toit 18 Wilco Louw 19 RG Snyman 20 Lood de Jager 21 Embrose Papier 22 Elton Jantjies 23 André Esterhuizen.