England and South Africa collide in Saturday’s series opener at Ellis Park in
Both sides are looking to get back to winning ways and find a performance as they build towards the 2019 World Cup.
England, who won back-to-back Six Nations titles in 2016 and 2017 in a dream start under Eddie Jones, have suddenly hit hard times just over a year out from the World Cup, conceding over 60 points to the Barbarians last month in a fourth successive loss.
South Africa vs England
June 9, 2018, 3:00pm
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South Africa are also looking to improve – they have had their worst two seasons in 2016 and 2017 which ultimately cost Allister Coetzee his job.
Rassie Erasmus took over as coach this year despite a first loss to Wales in Washington, there is a sense of rejuvenation in the Springbok camp.
England have only won three times on South African and we look at those Springboks who will have to play their part if they are to deny England a first win at Ellis Park since 1972.
History will be made when Kolisi becomes the first black player to captain the Springboks in their 127-year history. Injuries to Warren Whiteley and Eben Etzebeth means that Rassie Erasmus has turned to the 26-year-old Stormers skipper.
By his own admission, Kolisi has not been at his explosive best this season, but his workrate is incredible and he loves nothing better than to run with the ball. He punches far above his weight in defence and works hard at the ruck area as well. His pace also helps the Springboks create space out wide but he will need to temper this to make sure South Africa have the upper hand at the breakdown.
How he reacts to the captaincy remains to be seen – but leading the Springboks out at Ellis Park will be something to behold.
The loss of Malcolm Marx and then Bismarck Du Plessis has been a huge blow for South Africa and Rassie Erasmus has turned to Mbonambi to fill the void.
This will be a huge test for Mbonambi who has not had much game time for the Stormers due to appendicitis.
He may not have the carrying impact of a Marx or a Du Plessis but he is a good scrummager and has worked on his lineout and defence. England will look to disrupt the Springbok lineout and his synergy with his jumpers must be spot on if they are to make the most of an attacking lineout.
Dyantyi has been a try-scoring machine for the Lions in Super Rugby – he scored five tries in five matches before injury ruled him out. With plenty of pace, the Boks will be looking to create some space out wide for him.
His attacking game is well suited for Super Rugby but England will look to test him at an international level with their kicking game. Expect plenty of high balls to be sent his way and South Africa’s other debutant winger, the powerful Sibusiso Nkosi.
Willie Le Roux
Le Roux has enjoyed an excellent season with Wasps and South Africa will be looking to bring some leadership and calmness to the back three. His ability to create tries will be crucial for the Boks and England will be very wary of his counter-attacking capabilities.
Like his two wingers, England will look to test him under the high ball and look out for his Wasps team-mate Elliot Daly sending some massive kicks his way.
Pollard is just 24 but long-term injury has blighted a promising career. Will South Africa finally see him fulfil his potential and lay claim to the Springbok No 10 jersey?
His game management will be crucial on Saturday and his tactical and place kicking will need to be spot on. Pollard likes to play right on the gainline and his forwards will hopefully be able to get him on the front foot where Pollard and half-back partner Fa de Klerk can dictate their attack.