Rugby World Cup 2015: South Africa unchanged for New Zealand

Victor Matfield
Victor Matfield has missed South Africa's last three World Cup matches because of injury
South Africa v New Zealand
Venue: Twickenham Date: Saturday, 24 October Kick-off: 16:00 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 live, plus live text commentary on the BBC Sport website.

South Africa have named an unchanged starting line-up for Saturday's World Cup semi-final against New Zealand.

Lock Lood de Jager and hooker Bismarck du Plessis have both recovered from injuries sustained in the 23-19 quarter-final win against Wales.

In the only change to the squad, lock Victor Matfield is on the bench after recovering from a hamstring injury.

Matfield, 38, will hope to win his 126th Test cap after being preferred to Pieter-Steph du Toit on the bench.

The influential De Jager is fit to start despite suffering a foot injury last weekend, while Du Plessis will play with the hand wound he suffered in the quarter-finals strapped up.

It is the first time since 2007 that the Springboks have not changed their starting XV between successive World Cup matches.

2015 Rugby World Cup semi-final line-up
South Africa v New ZealandSaturday 24 October at Twickenham, 16:00 BST start
Argentina v AustraliaSunday 25 October at Twickenham, 16:00 GMT start

South Africa's starting line-up have a collective 701 Test caps between them and eight squad members were involved in the 2007 semi-final.

JP Pietersen, Bryan Habana, Fourie du Preez, Matfield and Schalk Burger all started that semi-final against Argentina eight years ago, which the Springboks won before going on to claim the title, while Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis and Ruan Pienaar came on as replacements.

The All Blacks have won 10 of the last 12 Tests against the Springboks, and will be favourites after their sensational 62-13 demolition of France in the quarter-finals.

But two-time champions South Africa, who have found form after their shock opening defeat by Japan, have beaten the defending champions in two of their three previous World Cup matches.

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What they say

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer: "This New Zealand side is probably the best team that's ever played the game. If you look at their run after the World Cup, they've just got better after the previous World Cup and that doesn't happen in world rugby. It will need our best performance probably ever to beat them."

Springbok wing Bryan Habana: "To beat the number one side in the world you have to be better than your best in every facet of your play.

"Your discipline has to be unbelievably good. Your defence has to be as sound as it's ever been before, your physicality and intensity has got to go 10 notches up and you know you have to be in for a massive 85 to 90-minute game."

Team

South Africa: Willie le Roux; JP Pietersen, Jesse Kriel, Damian De Allende, Bryan Habana; Handre Pollard, Fourie du Preez (captain); Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger, Francois Louw; Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth; Frans Malherbe, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane, Jannie du Plessis, Victor Matfield, Willem Alberts, Ruan Pienaar, Pat Lambie, Jan Serfontein.

Match stats

  • South Africa are one of two sides to hold a winning record over the All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup (the other being Australia), while another win would see the Springboks become the first team to beat the All Blacks three times in the competition.
  • A win for the All Blacks would be their 13th consecutive victory in the Rugby World Cup - the longest run ever recorded in the tournament.
  • Bryan Habana is the only player to appear in every minute of this tournament so far, while Francois Louw has played more minutes than any other forward in the competition (387).
  • South Africa have the best tackle success rate in the competition so far, completing 91% of their tackles and missing an average of just 12 per game.
  • Flanker Schalk Burger (80) has made 20 more carries than any other player at this tournament. He also ranks third for most tackles (55) and third for most offloads (17).

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