South Africa eyeing series win over Wales at Mbombela Stadium
Last Updated: 18/06/14 1:09pm
Victor Matfield: Set for record
Victor Matfield will become the most-capped Test player in the history of South African rugby he captains the Springboks against Wales on Saturday.
Heyneke Meyer’s side are hunting a series win in the clash at Mbombela Stadium following the 38-16 first Test victory in Durban last week.
Meyer said he is expecting another tough challenge from the tourists.
"They've had another week together and will be keen to lift their game on Saturday, but at the same time we were not happy with certain aspects of our game and we've worked hard to rectify that,” he said.
"This is their last match of the season, so we're expecting them to come out firing. But we also want to make a step up and ensure we keep on improving as the season progresses."
Meyer was full of praise for the 37-year-old Matfield, who retired after the 2011 World Cup on 110 caps, but made a highly successful return to the game earlier this year and will break the record of 2007 World Cup-winning skipper John Smit with his 112th appearance.
"This is a fantastic accolade for Victor," added Meyer.
"He has been a terrific servant of the game in South Africa and has led his country with distinction since returning to the Green and Gold.
"When he returned to the game earlier this season, he set his goals on becoming a Springbok yet again and he's worked extremely hard to get there.
“I don't think anyone can doubt that he deserves his place in the team and he's also been a great interim captain, with Jean de Villiers out injured."
Matfield, who is also the most-capped Super Rugby player in South Africa, will captain a Springbok starting line-up which shows two changes from Durban.
Both changes are in the pack, where Tendai Mtawarira returns at loosehead prop, with Gurthrö Steenkamp reverting to the bench, while Flip van der Merwe will partner Matfield in the second-row in the place of Bakkies Botha.
The only other change to the team is amongst the backline reserves, where Wynand Olivier replaces the injured Johan Goosen to provide necessary midfield cover. Ruan Pienaar will provide backup for scrum-half and fly-half, while Lwazi Mvovo can cover full-back and wing.
Meyer said it was an easy decision to stick with the core of the team which won in Durban, saying: "I've always preferred to stick with a winning combination and the changes to the team were both part of our planning.
"The backline really performed well last weekend and we would like to give them another opportunity to play together, as there were a number of new combinations.
"The same applies upfront. Bakkies is fit for selection, but we decided to manage his workload this week and I know Flip, who has been outstanding in the last two seasons, will slot back in easily. The same goes for 'Beast', who upped the tempo with his work rate last weekend."
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez; 1 Tendai Mtawarira, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 6 Francois Louw, 7 Willem Alberts, 8 Duane Vermeulen.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Gurthro Steenkamp, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Wynand Olivier, 23 Lwazi Mvovo.
Watch South Africa take on Wales live from Mbombela Stadium from 2pm this Saturday on Sky Sports 1HD