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Preview: South Africa v England (09-06-18)

   

Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
Local time kick off 17:05
NZ Kick Off – 03:05, Sun 10 Jun 2018
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Television match official: Simon McDowell (Ireland)

RSA (on 85.49 points) at home -vs- ENG (on 86.23 points)

RR WORLD RANKINGS

Possible Outcome Rating Point
Exchange
New RSA
Rating
New ENG
Rating
Will RSA
overtake ENG?
If RSA win by 1-15 points 0.774 86.26 85.46 Yes
If RSA win by more than 15 1.161 86.65 85.07 Yes
If result is a draw 0.226 85.26 86.46 No
If ENG win by 1-15 points 1.226 84.26 87.46 No
If ENG win by more than 15 1.839 83.65 88.07 No

South Africa and England go head-to-head on Saturday in Johannesburg with both looking to prove a point after an uncertain few months.

For the hosts, they are attempting to rebuild, with Rassie Erasmus the person selected to help the Springboks out of a frustrating period, while the Red Rose are simply struggling for performances.

It did not turn out to be the best of starts for the new boss after going down to Wales in Washington, but this Test series against the English has always been the focus for the national team. Although Erasmus would have been concerned by the displays of a number of individuals, exposing a lack of depth in their ranks, this is very much his best available side.

Injuries have ruled out some big hitters, with Malcolm Marx, Warren Whiteley, Bismarck du Plessis, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager and Frans Steyn all on the sidelines, but there is experience in the shape of Duane Vermeulen, Tendai Mtawarira, Willie le Roux and, of course, new captain Siya Kolisi.

Kolisi has the pressure of being the first black skipper of the Springboks, and the 26-year-old has not been in great form this season, but the flanker is more than good enough to take the burden.

With their opponents over the next few games struggling for form, it is an ideal chance to cement himself in the hearts of the supporters. A series win over the 2016 and ‘17 Six Nations champions would rightly be seen as an achievement, but it would not be entirely surprising.

It is not a stretch to say that England have been abysmal in their past four outings. Lacking in intensity and guile, Scotland, France, Ireland and the Barbarians all recorded deserved victories over Eddie Jones’ men.

Should they perform poorly during this series then a crisis looms for the Australian, who has otherwise enjoyed a relatively comfortable ride in charge of the national team. The talent is, and has always been, there but performances were lacking throughout the Six Nations.

A number of theories have been discussed, whether it be selection, a lack of confidence or Jones’ notorious training regime, and they will need to find the right formula going into these matches.

This series could provide a fresh start, however. The back-row, with Tom Curry and Billy Vunipola now fit and available, is balanced, while there are plenty of ball players behind the scrum, but the inclusion of Mike Brown on the wing is a strange one.

The Harlequins man was defensively exposed time and again versus the Barbarians and, if given the opportunity, the Springboks’ speedster Sbu Nkosi could have a field day.

Other than that, it is a strong-looking England side and, on paper, should be the favourites, but there are a lot of questions which have so far failed to be answered this year.

Previous results:

2016: England won 37-21 in London
2014: South Africa won 31-28 in London
2012: South Africa won 16-15 in London
2012: South Africa and England drew 14-14 in Port Elizabeth
2012: South Africa won 36-27 in Johannesburg
2012: South Africa won 22-17 in Durban
2010: South Africa won 21-11 in London
2008: South Africa won 42-06 in London
2007: South Africa won 15-06 in Paris (RWC)
2007: South Africa won 36-00 in Paris (RWC)

The teams:

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 S’busiso Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Trevor Nyakane/Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Wilco Louw/Thomas du Toit, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Warrick Gelant

England: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Jonny May, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Owen Farrell (c), 11 Mike Brown, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 Nick Isiekwe, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Brad Shields, 20 Nathan Hughes, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Piers Francis, 23 Denny Solomona

Date: Saturday, June 9
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 17:05 local (16:05 BST, 15:05 GMT)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Romain Poite (France), Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)



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