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Springboks team to face the All Blacks at Ellis Park

Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen will be given as much time as possible to recover from injury while Bismarck du Plessis will start Saturday’s final round of The Investec Rugby Championship Test against New Zealand at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

This match will be Springbok captain Jean de Villiers’ 50th appearance in the Investec Rugby Championship, the most by any South African.

Vermeulen is recovering from a rib cartilage injury and if he doesn’t recover in time to face New Zealand, Schalk Burger will start in the No 8 jersey with Warren Whiteley coming onto the bench.

If Vermeulen is cleared to play, the inclusion of Du Plessis at hooker will be the only change to the team that beat Australia by 28-10 in Cape Town last weekend.

“It’s been good to build some form of continuity and we’ll give Duane as much time as possible before making a final call,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

“He’s been one of our best players in the last couple of weeks and is responding well to medical treatment, but if he can’t make it, we can fall back on the experience of Schalk to start at No 8 with Warren coming onto the bench.

“Schalk’s impact last weekend was massive, but so was the rest of the bench and we’ll be looking for more of the same on Saturday.

“At hooker, we’ve decided to rotate Bismarck with Adriaan Strauss, both of whom must rate amongst the best hookers in the world at the moment.”

Meyer said that the Springboks will need to be at their best, defend strongly and execute their attacking plays as well as possible on Saturday if they are going to be victorious against New Zealand.

Over the last three years since the last Rugby World Cup, the All Blacks have established themselves as one of the best Test teams of all time, losing only once and drawing twice during this time.

“We’re well aware of the massive task that awaits us,” said Meyer.

“There are areas of the game we know we have to improve on against New Zealand. We’d like to go out there and enjoy the occasion and carry on where we left off against Australia. Hopefully we can get quick ball, like we did towards the end of the Test in Cape Town.”

Lwazi Mvovo has been released to play in the Absa Currie Cup for the Cell C Sharks this weekend.

The Springbok team to face New Zealand in Johannesburg is:

15 Willie le Roux 20caps 35 points
14 Cornal Hendricks 8 caps 25 points
13 Jan Serfontein 15 caps 5 points
12 Jean de Villiers (captain) 101 caps 135 points
11 Bryan Habana 102 caps 280 points
10 Handré Pollard 5 caps 37 points
9 Francois Hougaard 31 caps 20 points
8 Duane Vermeulen / Schalk Burger 24 caps/72 caps / 10 points/65 points
7 Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje 2 caps 0 points
6 Marcell Coetzee 21 caps 25 points
5 Victor Matfield (vice-captain) 116caps 35 points
4 Eben Etzebeth 28caps 0 points
3 Jannie du Plessis59 caps 5 points
2 Bismarck du Plessis 65 caps 45 points
1 Tendai Mtawarira60 caps10 points
16 Adriaan Strauss 39 caps 25 points
17 Trevor Nyakane8 caps 5 points
18 Marcel van der Merwe 4 caps 0 points
19 Bakkies Botha 82 caps 35 points
20 Schalk Burger / Warren Whiteley72 caps/2 caps65 points/0 points
21 Cobus Reinach1 cap 0 points
22 Pat Lambie35 caps 78 points
23 JP Pietersen 55 caps 85 points