Erasmus named an unchanged starting XV with a total of 990 combined Test caps among them. The total surpasses the 987 caps amassed by the run-on team in the Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand in France last year.

Furthermore, Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel will become the most-capped centre pairing in South African history on Saturday when they combine in the midfield for the 30th time in Tests.

With 20 players in the matchday squad having RWC experience and eight players having made their Test season ‘debut’ last weekend – including captain Siya Kolisi (flanker), Handre Pollard (flyhalf) and Cheslin Kolbe (wing), among others – Erasmus hoped for a more clinical performance from his charges this week.

“It’s always tough facing Ireland,” said Erasmus. “They are a quality team, they are ranked second in the world, and as we saw last week, they never stop fighting, so we know the magnitude of the challenge that awaits us this weekend.

“We have no doubt they’ll come out even stronger this week, but we also identified the areas of the game that we need to improve on, and it’s vital for us to build on our performance in our quest to win both matches.”

Of this being the most experienced starting lineup in Springbok history, Erasmus said: “We don’t really look at such things when we select the team, but this shows how blessed we are with the depth in the squad and the quality of the players we have.

“While it may be an impressive statistic, it will by no means guarantee us a victory. We know we must go out there and play good rugby for the full 80 minutes to get the desired result.”

A new Springbok midfield record looms for Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel.

A new Springbok midfield record looms for Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel.

Erasmus was pleased with the performances by the younger players in the squad last week – Gerhard Steenekamp (prop), Salmaan Moerat (lock), and Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (utility back) – and he expected them to feel even more settled on the field this week.

“They all made a strong impact off the bench, and they have immense potential as individuals,” said Erasmus. “They’ll definitely become more confident and settled the more they play.

“It was really impressive to see them step up to the challenge of facing a top side such as Ireland, and similarly to the rest of the team, they know this weekend will be an even bigger test, but they’ll be up for the challenge.”

Erasmus was pleased that the six-two split in favour of the forwards on the replacements’ bench gave the team the impact they had hoped for in the second half at Loftus Versfeld, saying: “We considered a few options for the first Test – a five-three split, six-two split, and seven-one split, and we felt that this combination is the best to counter the challenge Ireland poses.

“The replacements made a good impact when they took the field by injecting energy into the game, and we are looking for much of the same from them this week.”

Erasmus expected Ireland to come out all guns blazing and said: “We’ve been on the wrong side of the scoreboard on a few occasions too and we remember how it felt to suffer a defeat against them in the World Cup pool stages, and we have no doubt they are feeling the same this week.

Big Frans Malherbe will move into third spot on the list of most-capped starting props for South Africa.

Big Frans Malherbe will move into third spot on the list of most-capped starting props for South Africa.

“They are a proud team and nation and they’ll be disappointed that they were unable to capitalise on a few opportunities last week close to our tryline, so they will work hard this week to fix their mistakes and ensure that they convert their chances into points.

“This is going to be another physically gruelling match, and just like us, they will be determined to correct the wrongs of last week.

“There is also the other important matter of them of trying to draw the series, while we would be delighted to win both matches, which will fuel their motivation, so it is going to be another spectacle of top-class rugby.”

Erasmus also announced that a handful of players would be released from the 39-man squad to appear in the Carling Currie Cup matches this weekend. The players who will be released will be confirmed on Wednesday and will rejoin the squad on Sunday.

Springbok team to face Ireland in Durban:

15 – Willie le Roux (Vodacom Bulls) – 94 caps, 75 pts (15t)
14 – Cheslin Kolbe (Suntory Sungoliath) – 32 caps, 96 points (15t, 3c, 5p)
13 – Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles) – 70 caps, 80 points (16t)
12 – Damian de Allende (Wild Knights) – 80 caps, 55 points (11t)
11 – Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls) - 16 caps, 70 points (14t)
10 – Handré Pollard (Leicester Tigers) – 70 caps, 708 points (7t, 98c, 154p, 5dg)
9 – Faf de Klerk (Canon Eagles) – 57 caps, 50 points (5t, 5c, 5pg)

8 – Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs) – 42 caps, 35 pts (7t)
7 – Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz) – 79 caps, 40 points (8t)
6 – Siya Kolisi (captain, Racing 92) – 84 caps, 50 points (10t)
5 – Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) – 75 caps, 15 points (3t)
4 – Eben Etzebeth (Hollywoodbets Sharks) – 121 caps, 30 points (6t)
3 – Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers) – 71 caps, 5 points (1t)
2 – Bongi Mbonambi (Hollywoodbets Sharks) – 70 caps, 70 points (14t)
1 – Ox Nche (Hollywoodbets Sharks) – 29 caps, 0 pts


16 – Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears) – 66 caps, 85 points (17t)
17 – Gerhard Steenekamp (Vodacom Bulls) – 2 caps, 0 points
18 – Vincent Koch (Hollywoodbets Sharks) – 51 caps, 0 points
19 – Salmaan Moerat (DHL Stormers) – 5 caps, 0 points
20 – RG Snyman (Leinster) – 35 caps, 10 points (2t)
21 – Marco van Staden (Vodacom Bulls) – 19 caps, 0 pts
22 – Grant Williams (Hollywoodbets Sharks) – 10 caps, 10 points (2t)
23 – Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (DHL Stormers) – 2 caps, 7 points (2c, 1p)

Stats and facts:

Springbok record against Ireland:
Played 29, Won 19, Lost 9, Drawn 1. Points for: 557; Points against: 432. Tries scored: 75; Tries conceded: 41. Highest score: 38; Biggest win: 38 points (38-0). Average score: 19-15. Win %: 65.5%.


  • Frans Malherbe will start at tighthead prop for the 59th time, which moves him one clear of Jannie du Plessis into third on the list for the most starts at prop, behind Tendai Mtawarira (102) and Os du Randt (75).
  • The centre pairing of Jesse Kriel and Damian de Allende will set a new record of playing the most Test matches together in the midfield (30), which surpasses the previous record set by Jean de Villiers and Jaque Fourie of 29 Tests.
  • Cheslin Kolbe needs four points to reach 100 points in Tests for South Africa.
  • Kwagga Smith is only seven Test caps away from earning his 50th Test cap after this match.
  • Willie le Roux needs only five Test caps after Saturday’s match to join the select club of Springbok centurions.
  • The total Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is 990, the most experienced starting XV ever selected by South Africa.
  • There are 419 caps in the backline, with 571 caps among the forwards. On the bench there are a further 190
  • The average caps per player in the backline is 59, the forwards 71, while the players on the bench average 23.