Kirchner to start for Boks

Zane Kirchner will start at fullback in the Springboks’ World Cup opener against Japan in Brighton on Saturday.

Kirchner, who also started in the Boks’ last Test against Argentina, will retain the No 15 jersey, with Willie le Roux not named in the match-day 23, having missed the match in Buenos Aires with an ankle injury.

With Eben Etzebeth recovering from a calf strain and Duane Vermeulen having only just overcome a serious neck injury, the Springbok management has decided to give them another week to continue with their rehabilitation.

Lood de Jager will start in place of Etzebeth in the second row, while Schalk Burger will continue at No 8 in the absence of Vermeulen, with Francois Louw returning from injury to start at openside flank.

In the backline, Jean de Villiers will captain the team from inside centre after recovering from a fractured jaw, with Damian de Allende missing out on selection, while Ruan Pienaar and Pat Lambie will continue as the halfback pairing. Fourie du Preez and Handré Pollard will play off the bench.

Lwazi Mvovo also retains his place on the right wing after impressing against Argentina in Buenos Aires.

'We’ve decided to go with some form of continuity as it’s important to get a good start in the tournament, but we also wanted to bring back a number of players who have recently recovered from injury,' said Meyer. 'It’s great to see Jean, Francois, Lood, Jannie, Coenie, Fourie and JP back in action, and while we probably could’ve played Duane and Eben, in the end we decided to give them another week to fully recover from their injuries.

'The backline is almost unchanged as we also decided to reward the players who did so well in Buenos Aires. There will in all likelihood be changes again next week, but for now these players deserve another opportunity to stake a claim.'

The starting team boasts a combined total of 880 Test caps to make it the most experienced Springbok side ever.

'We play against the big teams from the southern and northern hemisphere quite often and with them it’s mostly a case of you know what to expect,' said Meyer. 'But Japan will pose a different threat. They have a very astute coach in Eddie Jones and our players who play in Japan have warned us to expect a very high-tempo game and good, low tackling to stop momentum.

'The players know that nothing but their best will be good enough on Saturday and we realise the importance of starting the World Cup on a good note, but having said that, we also know that there is no such thing as an easy game in rugby anymore and they will be just as fired up as us.'

Springboks – 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Lwazi Mvovo, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Schalk Burger, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Fourie du Preez, 22 Handré Pollard, 23 JP Pietersen.

World Cup teams

Photo: Gabriel Rossi/Gallo Images

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