South Africa have recalled World Cup winners JP Pietersen and Schalk Burger among five changes for Saturday’s QBE International against England at Twickenham.
Pietersen will start on the right wing and Burger at openside flanker and there is a new half-back combination of Cobus Reinach and Pat Lambie.
The fifth and final adjustment to the starting XV defeated 29-15 by Ireland in Dublin will see Adriaan Strauss start at hooker.
Head coach Heyneke Meyer has retained the same 23 selected for last Saturday’s tour opener at the Aviva Stadium with Cornal Hendricks, Handre Pollard, Francois Hougaard, Teboho Mohoje and Bismarck du Plessis dropping to the bench.
Meyer insists the changes were pre-planned rather than being a response to the loss to Ireland.
“Our performance against Ireland last weekend was not up to scratch and everyone in the touring squad has put up their hands and dug deep this week. We’ve really worked hard at fixing the mistakes we made and the challenge is now to put that into action on Saturday,” said Meyer
Ben Morgan insists England must employ a mixture of brain and brawn to subdue the South African onslaught. The Springboks have been described as “the big green machine” by Mike Catt, while prop Joe Marler assessed the challenge awaiting in the second QBE International by stating “their DNA is run hard and if that doesn’t work then run harder”.
Morgan insists England have to be ready to put their bodies on the line against the Rugby Championship runners-up, but warns muscle alone will not be enough to underpin a first victory of the autumn.
“We know South Africa are a big, physical team who like to use route one, so we have to use our smarts to move them around and create mismatches,” the Gloucester number eight said. “We want to get South Africa running around the field chasing us. If we can do that and take our opportunities, we’ll come out on top.”
Morgan is likely to continue in his role as number eight reinforcement to Billy Vunipola when Lancaster names his starting XV this morning.
Vunipola faded in the 24-21 defeat by New Zealand, but, while there are concerns over his fitness at international level, the 22-year-old looks set to profit from Lancaster’s desire to give the same 23 another chance.
Semesa Rokoduguni has been ruled out with a thigh problem, so Marland Yarde has been drafted into the squad as wing cover and is competing with Anthony Watson to start in the number 14 jersey. An injury doubt hangs over flanker Tom Wood, who England say is suffering from general soreness after the All Blacks game, so James Haskell is on standby as his replacement.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved