De Villiers to play 100th test for Boks vs NZ
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Center Jean de Villiers will make his 100th test appearance when he leads the Springboks against the All Blacks in a Rugby Championship test Saturday.
De Villiers was named on Wednesday to captain a South African team containing one change for the lineup that lost 24-23 to Australia in Perth last weekend.
The 33-year-old midfielder will be the 34th player to reach the 100-test milestone and the fifth South African after Victor Matfield (114 tests), John Smith (111), Percy Montgomery (102) and Bryan Habana, who reached the mark last weekend.
Matfield and Habana are both in the Springboks’ starting side for Saturday’s match.
Handre Pollard will start at flyhalf in the only change to a South African lineup which has two wins and one loss in Championship matches this season.
Coach Heyneke Meyer applauded the role De Villiers has played as a Springboks player and as captain since 2012.
“When the big names in South African rugby are mentioned, Jean will forever be among them,” Meyer said. “He’s shown a lot of character and resilience to get here and, to me, those are things that set him apart.
“Jean is not only an extremely good rugby player, but he’s also one of the greatest captains I’ve ever worked with.
De Villiers will play immediately outside Pollard who will make only his fourth test appearance.
“We felt that Handré has the right skill set for how we want to approach this game,” Meyer said. “He played well in the three tests that he started.
“It’s also good for continuity to have an almost unchanged side. We know where we made mistakes last weekend and the players now have an opportunity to rectify those against the toughest opponent in world rugby.”
New Zealand is due to name its team Thursday and will have to make at least two changes due to injuries to lock Sam Whitelock and flanker Liam Messam.
South Africa: Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks, Jan Serfontein, Jean de Villiers (captain), Bryan Habana, Handre Pollard, Ruan Pienaar, Duane Vermeulen, Marcell Coetzee, Francois Louw, Victor Matfield, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Tenda Mtawarira.
Reserves: Bismarck du Plessis, Trevor Nyakane, Marcel van der Merwe, Lood de Jager, Warren Whiteley, Francois Hougaard, Pat Lambie, Damian de Allende.