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De Klerk starts for Springboks against Ireland

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South African Rugby head coach Allister Coetzee has named Faf de Klerk to make his Springbok debut this weekend against Ireland at Newlands in Cape Town.

Coetzee has handed the starting fly half jersey to Sharks flyhalf Patrick Lambie but Lions number 10 has been cleared to play and has been named on the bench.

De Klerk is the only uncapped player in the Springboks starting team to play Ireland in the first of three Tests this month.

There are however six players in the match-23 who did not feature at the Rugby World Cup last year, ushering in a new era for Bok rugby. They are the Lions quintet of De Klerk, Jantjies, Warren Whiteley, Julian Redelinghuys and Lionel Mapoe, who will earn his first start for the Boks, as well as Stormers hooker Bongi Mbonambi, the only other uncapped player in the match-day squad.

De Klerk has been in good form this season for the Lions in Super Rugby and he earns a starting berth alongside experienced flyhalf Pat Lambie, who has played in 50 Tests for the Boks.

The Springbok coach said he is looking forward to seeing De Klerk earning his first Test cap for South Africa and that it was good to know Jantjies has fully recovered from his injury. The Lions flyhalf passed a fitness test at Thursday’s training session at the Cape Town Stadium.

“I have no doubt Faf will do a fantastic job,” said Coetzee.

“He has lots of experience around him in the form of Pat next to him and Duane at the back of the scrum. So in that sense he will be looked after, but I know Faf can also look after himself.

“Both our flyhalves, Pat and Elton, have been in outstanding form in the Super Rugby competition and it’s great to have both of them available and in the match day squad. To have a right and left foot kicker at halfback is always a good option,” said Coetzee

Adriaan Strauss will become the 57th player to lead out the Springboks as captain, with the 30-year old Bulls hooker playing in his 55th Test for his country.

Strauss will pack down in the middle of the front row between Tendai Mtawarira, who has earned 75 Bok caps, and Frans Malherbe. Coetzee picked Lood de Jager and Eben Etzebeth as his lock pairing, while the loose trio consists of Francois Louw, Siya Kolisi and the experienced Duane Vermeulen.

Amongst the backs, Coetzee opted for an experienced all-Cell C Sharks back trio of Willie le Roux, JP Pietersen and Lwazi Mvovo. Lions outside centre Lionel Mapoe earns his second Bok cap and partners Damian de Allende in an exciting midfield.

A total of eight players in the run-on team started in the Springboks’ previous Test, last October, when the Boks defeated Argentina 24-13 in London to clinch the bronze medal the 2015 Rugby World Cup. They are Mtawarira, Malherbe, Etzebeth, Louw, Vermeulen, De Allende, Pietersen and Le Roux.

Coetzee said he was pleased with the balance of the team.

“I am excited about the composition of the team and the players selected are rewarded for their consistently good performances in Super Rugby,” he said.

“We’ve worked extremely hard these past two weeks to become a team and to make sure we cover all the necessary areas so we can face the Irish.

“The big test will come up front where we will have to make sure that we do well at set pieces, especially at scrum and lineouts. Those are the areas where the Irish have been strong, so we want to compete there and set a platform so our backs can hopefully get into their rhythm.”

South Africa

15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Damian De Allende, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Faf de Klerk., 8 Duane Vermeulen , 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c),1 Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements : 16. Bongi Mbonambi , 17. Trevor Nyakane, 18. Julian Redelinghuys, 19. Pieter-Steph du Toit , 20. Warren Whiteley , 21. Rudy Paige , 22. Elton Jantjies , 23. Jesse Kriel ,

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