The Springboks head to the Stade de France on Saturday evening, with much fury and a sense of injustice, after the events at Twickenham last weekend. With all the talk about Angus Gardner and his bottling of the crucial decision last weekend, it would not have escaped the attention of Rassie Erasmus that the Boks conspired against themselves as well.
Saturday presents a unique challenge, in France. Games in Paris are notoriously awkward affairs, with the late start times and icy weather, in complete contrast with what is the norm for Southern Hemisphere sides.
Rassie has recalled most of the players that did well in the Rugby Championship. Willie Le Roux returns at fullback, while Faf de Klerk and Franco Mostert both slot immediately into the starting lineup as well.
Eben Etzebeth misses out due to injury, while Damien Willemse surprisingly drops out of the match 23 all together, with Cheslin Kolbe replacing him. Ivan Van Zyl drops out of the squad as well.
The French have shaken things up as well, since their last test. One look at their starting 15 and there’s zero doubt as to what their approach will be. Louis Picamoles heads up a big ball carrying backrow, while the lock pairing are giants. In Bastareaud and Doumayrou, they have little subtlety in midfield, and their approach seems to be to bash over the advantage line. Maxime Medard, Teddy Thomas and Damien Penaud provide the flair and devilment. Camille Lopez is a canny customer, as is his halfback partner, Baptiste Serin. Clever players, who will look to dictate matters with the boot.
On the bench they have the mercurial and quicksilver Gael Fickou, with Anthony Belleau a running halfback if the game needs chasing, late on. Gabrillagues and Babillot provide extra brawn off the bench.
Prediction: Springboks by 7+
The test match will be live on SuperSport 1 at 21:55 on Saturday
France: 15 Maxime Medard, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 11 Damian Penaud, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Baptiste Serin, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Arthur Iturria, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 3 Cedate Gomes Sa, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Jefferson Poirot
Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Dany Priso, 18 Rabah Slimani, 19 Paul Gabrillagues, 20 Mathieu Babillot, 21 Antoine Dupont, 22 Anthony Belleau, 23 Gael Fickou
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Cheslin Kolbe
Referee: Nigel Owens