DUBLIN (Reuters) - Props Tendai Mtawarira and Coenie Oosthuizen both return to bolster South Africa’s pack as coach Allister Coetzee picked a strong team to face Ireland in Dublin on Saturday in the first test of a four-match European tour.
The two frontrowers missed the narrow loss to world champions New Zealand in Cape Town last month – Mtawarira with a family problem and Oosthuizen after breaking his arm in the Rugby Championship campaign. But they bring a combined total of 124 caps to bolster the team.
Mtawarira replaces Steven Kitshoff, who drops to the bench, and Oosthuizen comes in for Ruan Dreyer, who is in the tour party but not in Saturday’s match squad.
Damian de Allende will start at centre in place of Jan Serfontein, who was not selected for the tour as he starts a new career at Montpellier in France.
“Continuity is important and we have kept changes to a minimum. I am really excited to see Damian getting an opportunity on Saturday. He has worked very hard and looked good in training,” said Coetzee, who is seeking to portray the Irish as the favourites.
“They beat us here in 2014 and with an experienced coaching team and world class players, they are rightfully considered as the favourites and is one of few teams in the last five years that managed to beat the All Blacks.”
“The Irish have a world-class halfback pair and their set-piece play is extremely good, so it will be a great battle on Saturday. They know how to keep the ball and use a good kicking game to put teams under pressure,” Coetzee said as he named the team on Thursday.
South Africa also play France, Italy and Wales on their tour.
Team: 15-Andries Coetzee, 14-Dillyn Leyds, 13-Jesse Kriel, 12-Damian de Allende, 11-Courtnall Skosan, 10-Elton Jantjies, 9-Ross Cronje, 8-Francois Louw, 7-Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6-Siya Kolisi, 5-Lood de Jager, 4-Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3-Coenie Oosthuizen, 2-Malcolm Marx, 1-Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16-Bongi Mbonambi, 17-Steven Kitshoff, 18-Wilko Louw, 19-Franco Mostert, 20-Uzair Cassiem, 21-Rudy Paige, 22-Handre Pollard, 23-Francois Venter.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by David Goodman and Edmund Blair