Springboks name record-breaking XV for showdown with Ireland at Kings Park

Springboks name record-breaking XV for showdown with Ireland at Kings Park

Rassie Erasmus named the most experienced team in Springbok history when he retained the exact same 23-man matchday squad to face Ireland in the second Test in Durban on Saturday.

There is not even so much as a positional switch in the squad, with every single player set to wear the same number as he did at Loftus Versfeld last week.

With a total of 990 combined Test caps between the starting XV, it surpasses the Boks' previous record of 987 caps set by the run-on team in the Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand in France last year.

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

It's a side bursting at the seams with experience, which is why Erasmus is expecting an even more controlled and disciplined performance from his charges this time around.

What's more, he knows it will be needed if the Boks are to down an Ireland side more than capable of bouncing back on Saturday.

"It's always tough facing Ireland," said the head coach. "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."

Erasmus was pleased with the performances by the younger players in the squad last week - Gerhard Steenekamp, Salmaan Moerat and Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu - 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 â- 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 coach added: "This is going to be another physically gruelling match, and just like us, Ireland 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 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: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Kwagga Smith, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche.

Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 RG Snyman, 21 Marco van Staden, 22 Grant Williams, 23 Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu.

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