Matfield skippers first-choice Boks

Victor Matfield will resume the captaincy on his return to the Springboks’ starting lineup in one of only two changes for Friday’s third-place play-off against Argentina at London's Olympic Stadium.

Matfield started the first two games of the World Cup, but a hamstring injury kept him out of action until last Saturday's semi-final against the All Blacks, when he came off the bench.

However, the veteran has now been handed the No 5 jersey in what is set to be his last game for the Boks, while he takes over the captaincy from Fourie du Preez, who has been ruled out with a cheekbone injury.

Heyneke Meyer has resisted any temptation to make wholesale changes to the side for their last match of the tournament, with Matfield's inclusion seeing Lood de Jager move to the bench, while Ruan Pienaar start at No 9 in place of Du Preez. Rudy Paige comes into the match 23.

'This is a critical match for us and we owe it to ourselves and our supporters to end the season on a high note,' Meyer said. 'The Pumas have made massive strides in recent years and we’ve experienced first-hand how tough an opponent they can be. The players realise that they will have to lift themselves for one final push on Friday to ensure that South African rugby goes into the off-season on a winning note.

'I considered fielding a much-changed team and weighed the pros and cons, but ultimately decided the team that has grown together over the past few weeks was the one with the best chance of delivering victory for our supporters.'

Meyer said the play-off match for third place at the World Cup is not what the Springboks had hoped for, but that they will approach their final Test of 2015 as the final.

'The players have all spoken about the honour of wearing the Springbok jersey and this Test is no different – we will never settle for being second or third best. It is my task to get them in the right frame of mind after the disappointment of last weekend and to ensure we bounce back with a good win after a tough week. To lose a Test is never good enough, but we’ve put last week behind us and our focus is now solely on Friday.

'Although our aim was always to win the competition, we have the opportunity to finish our campaign on a high and that is what we will be aiming for against a very good Argentine side.'

Springboks – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Jannie du Plessis, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein.

Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Post by

Craig Lewis