Rassie Erasmus is adamant South Africa will not underestimate Japan again on Friday after naming arguably his strongest XV for the Springboks’ final Rugby World Cup warm-up match.
Captain Siya Kolisi, fit again following a knee injury, is the only man included in the starting line-up who did not feature in the 16-16 Rugby Championship draw with New Zealand in July.
An experimental team beat Argentina 24-18 in the Springboks’ most recent game but Erasmus has rolled out his big guns in South Africa’s final fixture before they face the All Blacks again in their World Cup opener.
Pieter-Steph du Toit will make his 50th Test appearance in the back row alongside Kolisi, with Erasmus mindful about taking World Cup hosts Japan seriously after they pulled off a stunning 34-32 win when the two teams last met four years ago.
“I hope this selection will send a strong message that we have the utmost respect for Japan,” Erasmus told reporters.
“Perhaps we made the mistake of complacency against them in the past but we’ve been hammering the message all week that we should never do that again against Japan.
“They’re a smart team of great athletes, playing at home, having won a title in the past month and now desperate to prove something. This Test is as big a challenge as any we’ve had this season.
“They made a movie about the last time they played us – it’s our job to make sure there’s no sequel.”
BREAKING: Bok team for Japan Test named
Siya Kolisi returns to starting lineup
-up for Pieter-Steph du Toit
“This Test is as big a challenge as any we’ve had this season.”
— Springboks (@Springboks) September 3, 2019
South Africa: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Duane Vermeulen.
Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, RG Snyman, Francois Louw, Herschel Jantjies, Frans Steyn, Jesse Kriel.