Springboks name veteran side to tackle Japan
South Africa will parade the most experienced team in their Test history on Saturday when they tackle opening World Cup opponents Japan in Brighton.
Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer has named a starting line-up that boasts a total of 880 caps for the Pool B encounter, eclipsing South Africa's previous best of 836 in the World Cup quarter-final against Australia four years ago.
Meyer makes six changes from the side that beat Rugby Championship opponents Argentina in Buenos Aires last month, including starts for skipper Jean de Villiers and Bath flanker Francois Louw.
"We play against the big teams from the southern and northern hemisphere quite often, and with them it's mostly a case of you know what to expect," Meyer said.
"But Japan will pose a different threat. They have a very astute coach in Eddie Jones, and our players who play in Japan have warned us to expect a very high tempo game and good, low tackling to stop momentum.
"The players know that nothing but their best will be good enough on Saturday, and we realise the importance of starting the World Cup on a good note.
"But having said that, we also know that there is no such thing as an easy game in rugby any more, and they will be just as fired up as us."
Returning scrum half Fourie du Preez has played an important part in preparing South Africa.
The veteran half back plays his club rugby in Japan and has been warning teammates to expect a feisty challenge.
"Over the last two weeks, every now and then, the coach (Meyer) has come and asked for a little bit of input," he said.
South Africa: (v Japan) Z Kirchner; L Mvovo, J Kriel, J de Viliers (capt), B Habana; P Lambie, R Pienaar; T Mtawarira, B du Plessis, J du Plessis, L de Jager, V Matfield, F Louw, W Alberts, S Burger. Replacements: A Strauss, T Nyakane, C Oosthuizen, P-S du Toit, S Kolisi, F du Preez, H Pollard, JP Pietersen.