Boks retain starting XV for Saturday’s semi-final

Boks retain starting XV for Saturday’s semi-final

South Africa have named an unchanged starting line-up for their Rugby World Cup semi-final against New Zealand on Saturday but have included experienced lock Victor Matfield on the bench.

The 38-year-old second row was the only change made by coach Heyneke Meyer to the match-day 23 for the colossal clash at Twickenham, with hooker Bismark du Plessis and lock Lood de Jager overcoming injury concerns to play.

Du Plessis has recovered sufficiently from a gash on his hand, while De Jager has been passed fit after injuring a tendon in his foot against the Welsh.

Matfield’s return means that young second rower Pieter-Steph du Toit, who can also cover at flanker, drops out of the 23.

“It’s great to be able to give another run to the team that got us through to the semi-finals,” Meyer said yesterday.

“Victor Matfield’s inclusion on the bench gives us even more experience there and, as we saw last weekend against Wales, this will be crucial.

“His influence will also be pivotal against a strong New Zealand line-out.”

Scrumhalf Fourie du Preez will continue as captain of the side, with young flyhalf Handre Pollard and inexperienced centres Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel outside of him.

Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen continue on the wing, while fullback Willie le Roux, who had a poor game in the 23-19 quarter-final victory over Wales, retains his place.

Tight-head prop Frans Malherbe is preferred to the more experienced Jannie du Plessis.

South Africa needed a late try from Du Preez to beat Wales in the quarters and now face an All Blacks side who have beaten the Boks in 10 of their last 12 meetings.

“We’re playing against the defending champions and the top-ranked side in the world, but the current New Zealand side can also be regarded as arguably one of the best test teams ever,” Meyer added.

“But we have to believe we can beat them otherwise we’ll be wasting our time.”

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