Tendai Mtawarira will become just the sixth Springbok and eighth prop in World Rugby to pick up his 100th cap on Saturday after he was named to start against England in the pivotal second test of this Incoming Series in Bloemfontein.
He will take his place in the front row alongside the returning Frans Malherbe who is one of two changes made by Head Coach Rassie Erasmus. Pieter-Steph du Toit also returns to the starting XV with Jean-Luc de Preez taking the seat on the bench that Du Toit will be vacating.
England have rung the changes as well with Joe Launchbury recovering from injury to partner Maro Itoje in the second row at Nick Isiekwe’s expense whilst back row stalwart Chris Robshaw also drops out of the 23 as Brad Shields earns his first test start on the blindside flank.
Danny Cipriani has also been recalled to the bench and could collect his first international cap since 2015.
For both coaches they will want more of the same from their respective attacking units as they got last week but defensively there will be no doubt that facets of this department will have been worked on during the week.
Erasmus will not want South Africa’s slow start of last week to be repeated as he knows England will have learnt some game management lessons last time out and are unlikely to unravel in the way they did in Johannesburg.
The addition of Du Toit in the back row not only gives the Boks another lineout option but it also adds a hugely powerful ball carrier in the loose. England struggled to contain the likes of RG Snyman and Duane Vermeulen last week and this will have been recognised by the coaches as a weakness in the English defence.
This could explain the decision to select Shields at openside. His tackling is more destructive than that of Robshaw and it will most likely give the young Tom Curry more freedom to try and get his hands over the ball at the breakdown and also give him a chance to get nearer to Faf de Klerk at the base of the scrum.
Shields, as his name aptly suggests, may have a brief of protecting the diminutive George Ford in the fly half channel. This will surely be his primary objective as Ford was attacked relentlessly by the likes of Damien de Allende and Snyman. Ford lost that battle on every occasion and Shields will look to take his fly half out of the equation with some first up tackling of his own.
There are no changes in either back division which is no surprise with the amount of points they plundered last weekend and for Erasmus this will be a fairly simple team talk. Same again please gentlemen. Some defensive alignment and issues out wide will have been addressed but in attack they had the Red Roses wilting in the late evening sun.
England have two missions on their hands if they are to take this series to a grandstand decider in Cape Town.
Stop Vermeulen and Stop De Klerk.
Vermeulen had the white shirted back row in his pocket last week and Billy Vunipola knows that he is going to have to up his game to match the domineering number 8 and stop the quick ball that allowed man of the match De Klerk to dictate the pace of the play and move his forwards precisely where he wanted them.
This series is on a knife edge and one stroke of luck either way or one piece of brilliance will most likely decide whether the series is still alive on Saturday night but one thing is for certain, if it is half as entertaining as the first test then we will be in for a delectable test match treat.
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 S’bu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 1 Tendai Mtawarira, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 3 Frans Malherbe, 4 RG Snyman, , 5 Franco Mostert,6 Siya Kolisi (c), 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 8 Duane Vermeulen,
Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Jean-Luc duPreez, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Jesse Kriel, 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; 1 Mako Vunipola, 2 Jamie George, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 Joe Launchbury, 6 Brad Shields, 7 Tom Curry, 8 Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Mark Wilson, 20 Nathan
Hughes, 21 Ben Spencer, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Denny Solomona.