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South Africa have named an unchanged side for their Rugby World Cup semi-final against England.
After pipping France in Paris last week, Jacques Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus have kept faith with the same starting line-up and bench.
With 895 caps within the 23, it is the most experienced Springboks side in history, while this is only the second time since Erasmus and Nienaber’s arrival in 2018 that they have named an unchanged team.
“We’ve been building a quality Rugby World Cup squad for the last few years so that we could be in this position going into the knockout matches,” said head coach Nienaber.
“We have a squad of 33 players, all of whom are very closely matched in terms of their skill and quality of play which made it tempting to make changes this week and it was tough to select this group both last week and this week. But we feel it’s now time to go with the players in the squad who we believe are in their best form.”
15 of the 23 players captained by Siya Kolisi also featured in the World Cup final win against England in Yokohama four years ago.
Manie Libbok is backed at fly half despite the return to fitness of Handre Pollard during this tournament.
Pollard has to settle for a place on the bench as one of three back replacements, with South Africa opting for a traditional five/three bench split.
Cobus Reinach retains the starting scrum half spot ahead of Faf de Klerk, and Deon Fourie continues to offer cover at both hooker and flanker from the 16 shirt.
“This may not have much significance, but the fact remains that these players have been here before, and they know what it will take to defeat a top-quality team such as England,” explained Nienaber.
“Competition for places in the team is very tight and the coaches had a few in depth discussions before finalising the team.
“We have players like Lukhanyo Am, Canan Moodie, Andre Esterhuizen, Jasper Wiese, Jean Kleyn, and the list goes on, who are all good enough to be in this team and would have fitted in and done the job just well as the other players.
“But we can only select 23 and everyone in this group is aligned and understands that the country comes first. We are playing for our friends, family and the 60 million people at home who have been supporting us through thick and thin and we are determined to continue giving them hope and something to smile about.”
South Africa team to face England at the Stade de France (Saturday 21 October, kick off 8pm BST)
1 Steven Kitshoff, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 3 Frans Malherbe; 4 Eben Etzebeth, 5 Franco Mostert; 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 8 Duane Vermeulen; 9 Cobus Reinach, 10 Manie Libbok; 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 12 Damian de Allende, 13 Jesse Kriel, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 15 Damian Willemse.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Kwagga Smith; 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Handre Pollard, 23 Willie Le Roux.
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