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GUINNESS Series Preview: Ireland v South Africa

GUINNESS Series Preview: Ireland v South Africa

There really is a ‘two tribes go to war’ feel about Saturday’s final Test of the GUINNESS Series, as Grand Slam champions Ireland take on the might of the Springboks, who have the World Cup and Tri Nations trophy safely tucked away. With memories of a hard-fought Lions tour still fresh and both sides looking to end 2009 on a high, there certainly will be no quarter asked or given at Croke Park (kick-off 2.30pm).

GUINNESS SERIES 2009: Saturday, November 28

IRELAND v SOUTH AFRICA, Croke Park, 2.30pm (live RTÉ Two/BBC One) 

Team News: The selected Ireland team to face South Africa shows six changes to the starting fifteen from the side that beat Fiji 41-6 last weekend.

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There are three changes in the back-line, starting with Tommy Bowe’s return on the right wing in place of Shane Horgan.

Paddy Wallace moves from the bench to start at inside centre with Gordon D’Arcy named in the replacements. Tomas O’Leary has also been selected to start at number 9, with Peter Stringer providing scrum half cover on the bench.

O’Leary will have a new half-back partner in Jonathan Sexton, whose impressive debut in the win over Fiji has helped him get the nod over the more experienced Ronan O’Gara.

Up front, there are also three changes in personnel, with Cian Healy starting at loosehead prop after recovering from his shoulder injury and Tony Buckley retained in the replacements.

Donncha O’Callaghan also returns to the side in the second row, taking over from the benched Leo Cullen. David Wallace, who was not involved in the matchday 22 against Fiji, returns at openside flanker.

Meanwhile, South Africa coach Peter de Villiers have made five changes – two of them positional – to the starting line-up from last week’s win over Italy for Saturday’s clash with Ireland.

In the front row, Tendai Mtawarira returns to the South African team in place of Wian du Preez and Ulster’s BJ Botha starts at tighthead with captain John Smit moving to hooker in the place of Adriaan Strauss.

As well as Botha, there are two other Irish-based players in the Springboks’ 22, with Leinster prop CJ van der Linde and Munster centre Jean de Villiers selected on the replacements bench.

Meanwhile, Victor Matfield returns in the second row, linking up with Andries Bekker who is a late replacement for back injury victim Bakkies Botha.

Schalk Burger is back at openside flanker with Danie Rossouw moving to number 8. There is one change to the back-line with Wynand Olivier starting at inside centre in place of the injured Adi Jacobs.

There are four more changes on the bench – front rowers Bismarck du Plessis and van der Linde return from injury, while Jean de Villiers is recalled and uncapped flanker Dewald Potgieter is included in a ‘Boks matchday squad for the first time.

South African skipper Smit will equal Percy Montgomery’s record as the most-capped Springbok against Ireland (six caps), while Jaque Fourie will equal Jean de Villiers’ record as the most-capped Springbok centre.

IRELAND: Rob Kearney; Tommy Bowe, Brian O’Driscoll (capt), Paddy Wallace, Keith Earls; Jonathan Sexton, Tomas O’Leary; Cian Healy, Jerry Flannery, John Hayes, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell, Stephen Ferris, David Wallace, Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Tony Buckley, Leo Cullen, Sean O’Brien, Peter Stringer, Ronan O’Gara, Gordon D’Arcy.

SOUTH AFRICA: Zane Kirchner; JP Pietersen, Jaque Fourie, Wynand Olivier, Bryan Habana; Morne Steyn, Fourie du Preez; Tendai Mtawarira, John Smit (capt), BJ Botha, Andries Bekker, Victor Matfield, Heinrich Brussow, Schalk Burger, Danie Rossouw.

Replacements: Bismarck du Plessis, CJ van der Linde, Francois Hougaard, Jean Deysel, Dewald Potgieter, Ruan Pienaar, Jean de Villiers.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Chris White (England), Carlo Damasco (Italy)
Television Match Official: Hugh Watkins (Wales)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ireland to win: Evens; Draw: 20/1; South Africa to win: 4/5

Pre-Match Quotes: Declan Kidney (Ireland) – “The more often we play the Tri Nations teams the better we become. South Africa won the Tri Nations easily and they will be a good measure of where we are now.

“There’s a bit more pressure because you want to play well against the best in the world. Our preparation is the same as for any other team but the adrenaline flows a little bit easier.

“South Africa are very strong – other than at full-back and number 8, they seemed to be as they were in the Tri Nations.

“They have picked their strongest team and it’s nice to see that. They will challenge us in every area and we’ll find out so much more about ourselves on Saturday.

“Jonathan (Sexton) is not coming in inexperienced. He’s played some big games over the last 12 months.

“This is progress from where we were last year – we said we’ve wanted to develop an international squad.

“Jonathan has played well at provincial, Ireland ‘A’ and international level so he’s warranted a go. That’s what we’re giving him. I’ve no doubt his experience at Croke Park in the Heineken Cup semi-final last season will help.”

Peter de Villiers (South Africa) – “It’s some good fortune we have at the moment. If you look at the squad, we can go horses for courses now and play how we want to play, stamp what we want to stamp on the game as a team and that’s why John (Smit) is there at hooker.

“Suddenly we can make tactical choices on the pitch, move the players around – what a great position to be in.

“Sexton had a fairytale start last week to his international career. On that alone I would have kept him there, he brings a freshness to the team and for us he’s an unknown factor.

“That kind of stuff is what you need. You need to be inventive if you want to keep the opposition guessing.”

Pre-Match Links –

Botha Ruled Out For Springboks

Bowe: It’s Up To Us To Deliver

de Villiers: Massive Surprise To Get Call-Up

Cian Healy On Irish Rugby TV 

Brian O’Driscoll On Irish Rugby TV

Head-To-Head: Ireland v South Africa 

Recent Form: Ireland – 2009: Won 30-21 v France home (Six Nations); Won 38-9 v Italy away (Six Nations); Won 14-13 v England home (Six Nations); Won 22-15 v Scotland away (Six Nations); Won 17-15 v Wales away (Six Nations); Won 25-6 v Canada away (Summer Tour); Won 27-10 v USA away (Summer Tour); Drew 20-20 v Australia home (Autumn Series); Won 41-6 v Fiji home (Autumn Series) 

South Africa – 2009: Won 26-21 v British & Irish Lions home (Lions Test Series); Won 28-25 v British & Irish Lions home (Lions Test Series); Lost 28-9 v British & Irish Lions home (Lions Test Series); Won 28-19 v New Zealand home (Tri Nations); Won 31-19 v New Zealand home (Tri Nations); Won 29-17 v Australia home (Tri Nations); Won 32-25 v Australia away (Tri Nations); Lost 21-6 v Australia away (Tri Nations); Won 32-29 v New Zealand away (Tri Nations); Lost 20-13 v France away (Autumn Tour); Won 32-10 v Italy away (Autumn Tour)

Related Links –

Can’t make the game? You can still download the Ireland v South Africa match programme to your iPhoneclick here.

Don’t have an iPhone? Don’t worry! You can keep up-to-date with all the Irish rugby news on your mobile – text IRFU to 51000.