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Ireland v South Africa: Springboks player profiles

John O’Sullivan profiles Ireland’s opponents at the beginning of their northern hemisphere tour

The South African team line up after the Captain’s Run at the Radisson St Helen’s Hotel in Dublin. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

15 Andries Coetzee
Age:
27
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 92kg (14st 7lbs)
Caps: 9
Points: 0
He has played in every test for South Africa this year. One aspect of his game that needs a little polish is his tactical kicking and he’s sure to be tested under the high ball.

14 Dillyn Leyds
Age:
25
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 88kg (13st 12lbs)
Caps: 5
Points: 0
A versatile performer, he can play fullback, wing and outhalf; he’s skilful, quick and is rightly celebrated as producing one of the greatest offloads, a behind the back, flick pass while playing for the Stormers.  

13 Jessie Kriel
Age:
23
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 95kg (14st 13lbs)
Caps: 34
Points: 30
Another versatile back and a fine footballer with a knack for scoring tries, he possesses a nice rounded game. He claims that he’s developed as a player from lining out at fullback during the Super rugby season.

12 Damian de Allende
Age:
25
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 101kg (15st 9lbs)
Caps: 27
Points: 15
Jan Serfontein was the starting inside centre for all the Springboks matches this year but asked to be excused the tour to go straight to his new club Montpellier. De Allende, looking for form after injuries, rekindles a partnership with Kriel that goes back to the last World Cup.  

11 Courtnall Skosan
Age:
26
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 93kg (14st 9lbs)
Caps: 9
Points: 10
A brilliant player going forward, really quick with great balance, he is another to have played in every test match this season. His defence and aerial ability will receive a rigorous examination.  

10 Elton Jantjes
Age:
27
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 88kg (13st 12lbs)
Caps: 20
Points: 198
There was some talk of Handre Pollard being promoted to the starting line-up but he’s been his coach’s first choice outhalf. He’s gifted but Ireland will look to get after him physically and squeeze his time and space.

9 Ross Cronje
Age:
28
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 88kg (13st 12lbs)
Caps: 6
Points: 10
He has tended to polarise opinion back in South Africa with his advocates suggesting that he does the basics better than anyone else in contention for the jersey while his critics point to a slow delivery.

1 Tendai Mtawarira
Age:
32
Height: 6’
Weight: 116kg (18st 4lbs)
Caps: 95
Points: 10
The Beast is a superb ball carrier, top notch in the scrum and when he runs out at the Aviva stadium today will be playing Ireland for the seventh time, a record he’ll hold jointly with Leinster old boy, CJ van der Linde.

2 Malcolm Marx
Age:
23
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 114kg (17st 13lbs)
Caps: 10
Points: 15
This young man is a potential future star of world rugby. In the Springboks 25-24 loss to the All Blacks he made one try, scored another and got a rating from the New Zealand Herald of a maximum 10.  

3 Coenie Oosthuizen
Age:
28
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 129kg (20st 4lbs)
Caps: 29
Points: 20
He hasn’t played since fracturing an arm against Australia but represents a second change to the front row for this game. Despite his size he’s very mobile and a real threat close to the opposition line.

4 Eben Etzebeth (capt)
Age:
26
Height: 6’8”
Weight: 118kg (18st 8lbs)
Caps: 63
Points: 15
A superb athlete with a hard edge, he took over the captaincy of the Springboks for this year’s Rugby Championship and played 80-minutes in every single match, underlining his importance to the team and his physical prowess.

5 Lood de Jaeger
Age:
24
Height: 6’9”
Weight: 125kg (19st 10lbs)
Caps: 32
Points: 20
The other half of probably the biggest secondrow pairing in world rugby and like his captain contributes in all facets of the game. The South African lineout is going to be a threat on Irish ball.

6 Siya Kolisi
Age:
26
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 105kg (16st 7lbs)
Caps: 25
Points: 20
Quick and powerful he offers a ball carrying option in all areas of the pitch and is comfortable in the wider channels as well as being very difficult to shift over ruck ball.

7 Pieter-Steph du Toit
Age:
26
Height: 6’6”
Weight: 120kg (18st 13lbs)
Caps: 29
Points: 20
He is the grandson of former Springbok prop Piet ‘Spiere’ du Toit while his brother Johan plays alongside him at the Stormers. He is essentially a secondrow with the athletic ability to play in the backrow; he showed well the last day against the All Blacks.

8 Francois Louw
Age:
32
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 114kg (17st 13lbs)
Caps: 54
Points: 40 
The Bath man is normally an openside flanker and was under former Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer but has made the transition to the middle of the backrow. His prowess in turning over possession can be gleaned from the fact that he had the second most (13) at the 2015 World Cup.