Former Springbok second rower Bakkies Botha will take the reigns when a World XV with a strong Toulon influence take on South Africa in Cape Town on Saturday. Botha will go up against long time locking partner Victor Matfield, who will captain the Springboks.
The team features many Toulon stars, as well as former Springboks JJ Engelbrecht, Gurthro Steenkamp, and Flip van der Merwe. Former Sharks hooker Craig Burden will also start.
Brothers Steffon and Delon Armitage, both at Toulon, will be out to prove their mettle yet again, while Mike Harris and Luke Burgess will form an Australian halfback pairing.
Kiwi coach Robbie Deans said that Bakkies Botha was the natural choice as skipper.
“For a long time Bakkies has been a huge presence in the game here so it’ll be a real occasion when he leads the World XV out against his country. He’s really enjoyed this week, mixing with those he’s played against and he’s been a big contributor in helping the group come together. He was leading before he was appointed leader,” Deans said.
Up front Ali Williams and Carl Hayman will bulk up the pack, in both weight and experience. Williams has said that his Toulon teammate, Botha, is a different person off the field.
“Bakkies is a guy I played against for so long, but we’ve become really good mates. He’s a great man and a completely different character to what a lot of people see on the field, when he’s in the role of enforcer.”
Botha has hinted that they won’t be holding back against the Boks though, who have the likes of Jean de Villiers making a miraculous return, from the bench.
“We are not here to party. We are here to play as well. Hopefully we can ask all the questions that need to be asked. The Boks have a plan that they’ve bought into and we need to ask questions of their defence and attack.
“That is the only way you can prepare yourself for the World Cup,” Botha said.
15 Delon Armitage, 14 Lachlan Turner, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 David Smith, 10 Mike Harris, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Bakkies Botha (captain), 4 Ali Williams, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 David Roumieu, 17 Alexandre Menini, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Louis-Benoit Madaule, 21 Maxime Machenaud, 22 Andrew Horrell, 23 Rudi Wulf.
15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Oupa Mohoje, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jean de Villiers
Kick off: 17:00 Cape Town (16:00 GMT), Saturday 11 July