Handré Pollard will start at flyhalf for the Springboks against the All Blacks in Wellington on Saturday, with Jean de Villiers winning his 100th Test cap.
The 33-year-old De Villiers will become the 34th Test player to reach this milestone. With him on the field will be two of the four South African centurions – the most-capped Springbok of all time, Victor Matfield (114 caps) and Bryan Habana, who reached this special milestone last weekend against Australia in Perth. The other two Springbok centurions are John Smit (111) and Percy Montgomery (102).
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer lauded De Villiers, not only for the role he had played since taking over as captain in 2012, but also during the rest of his career, on the field and away from it.
'When the big names in South African rugby are mentioned, Jean will forever be among them,” said Meyer. 'He’s showed a lot of character and resilience to get here and to me, those are things that set him apart. Jean is not only an extremely good rugby player, but he’s also one of the greatest captains I’ve ever worked with.
'Jean is also a true ambassador for South Africa. To see how he is respected all over the world, is truly humbling and our fellow countrymen can be proud of him. Despite all of the success and responsibility, he’s never lost that sparkle in his eye and he treats everyone around him with respect.'
Pollard's inclusion in the starting lineup at the expense of Morné Steyn is the only change from the team which played in Perth last weekend. The bench is unchanged.
'We felt that Handré has the right skill set for how we want to approach this game,' said Meyer. 'He played well in the three Tests that he started. A couple of months ago, he was named the World Junior Player of the Year after some very impressive performances here for the Junior Springboks and I’m sure he can build on that.
'It’s also good for continuity to have an almost unchanged side. We know where we made mistakes last weekend and the players now have an opportunity to rectify those against the toughest opponent in world rugby.'
Springboks – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Warren Whiteley, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Damian de Allende.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images