Record try-scorer Bryan Habana is back at left wing for the Springboks when they face Italy in Florence on Saturday, while Nizaam Carr will get his first start for South Africa against the same opponents he made his Test debut against two years ago.

In a third change to the starting team, Pieter-Steph du Toit, the 2016 SA Rugby Player of the Year, will move back to lock in the place of Eben Etzebeth, who was not considered for selection because of the concussion he suffered against England.

The rest of the team that played England in London was kept unchanged, but Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has made three changes to the bench, with Trevor Nyakane (prop), Oupa Mohoje (loose forward) and Elton Jantjies (flyhalf) all returning to the match squad.

Prop Tendai Mtawarira will play in his 90th match in the Springbok jersey and will earn his 86th Test cap for South Africa.

Coetzee said his team had a good training week in Florence and is looking forward to an improved performance from his side.

“We’ve had a good, hard look at the areas we must improve on and we realise Italy will be a tough side playing at home.”

 “It was the right decision not to risk Bryan at Twickenham. He has been training hard all week and without any discomfort, so he is good to go,” said the Bok coach.

“Our set-piece is operating very nicely at the moment and we were outstanding in the scums and line-outs last week. However, we must improve in other areas because we had several soft moments at Twickenham, which we got punished for.”

“Although they played together for the first time as a combination, I thought that our midfield pairing of Damien de Allende and Francois Venter performed well last week. They will improve as a combination by playing together.”

“Apart from the few changes, we have gone for continuity, taking into account that this current squad have only been together for one week before the match against England. I would also like us to build longer periods of sustained pressure, to execute better and to convert our scoring opportunities into points,” explained Coetzee.

15. Willie le Roux (40)
14. Ruan Combrinck (5)
13. Francois Venter (1)
12. Damian de Allende (21)
11. Bryan Habana (123) Vice-captain
10. Pat Lambie (54)
9. Rudy Paige (6)
8. Warren Whiteley (13)
7. Willem Alberts (42)
6. Nizaam Carr (3)
5. Lood de Jager (26)
4. Pieter-Steph du Toit (18)
3. Vincent Koch (8)
2. Adriaan Strauss (64) Captain
1. Tendai Mtawarira (85)

16. Bongi Mbonambi (4)
17. Steven Kitshoff (8)
18. Trevoe Nyakane (26)
19. France Mostert (5)
20. Teboho Mohoje (14)
21. Faf de Klerk (9)
22. Elton Jantjies (9)
23. Johan Goosen (11)


Head to head:

  • Italy and South Africa will meet for the 13th time since their first Test in 1995. South Africa won all previous 12 Tests.
  • The smallest losing margin for Italy against the Springboks is 16, when they lost 13-29 in Witbank in 2010 and 6-22 in Padova in 2014.
  • In 1999 South Africa won the Test against Italy in Durban 101-0, the second highest winning margin in the history of South African Test Rugby.
  • South Africa’s complete record against Italy is: P: 12; W: 12; PF: 599; PA: 145; TF: 82; TA: 12; Percentage won: 100%; Average score: 50-12.