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Francois Venter South Africa centre to make debut against England

The outside centre was just one of five survivors from the team that drew 31-31 in the non-cap clash with the Barbarians.

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South Africa's Francois Venter (centre) will make his Test debut against England at Twickenham play

South Africa's Francois Venter (centre) will make his Test debut against England at Twickenham


South Africa's Francois Venter has been picked to make his Test debut against England at Twickenham on Saturday.

The outside centre was just one of five survivors from the team that drew 31-31 in the non-cap clash with the Barbarians at Wembley last weekend to make it into the Test side named Thursday by Springboks coach Allister Coetzee for South Africa's opening end-of-year international.

The others were fly-half Pat Lambie, scrum-half Rudy Paige, flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit and prop Tendai Mtawarira.

Du Toit is best known as a lock but has been switched to the back row by Springbok coach Allister Coetzee following injuries to Roelof Smit and several other loose forwards.

Du Toit is set to start at blindside flanker, with Willem Alberts at openside and Warren Whiteley at No 8 -- the position he occupied during the Rugby Championship.

Du Toit's positional switch has paved the way for Lood de Jager, who missed the Barbarians match through suspension, to return to the second row alongside Eben Etzebeth.

Hooker Adrian Strauss returns to the front row and resumes the captaincy from Lambie, who led the team at Wembley.

Experienced wing JP Pietersen, now at English Premiership side Leicester, will wear the No 11 jersey but star flyer Bryan Habana is not fully fit and won't be risked at Twickenham.

Ruan Combrinck comes in on the right wing and, with Willie le Roux at fullback, South Africa field the back three that played in the 2-1 Test series win at home to Ireland in June.

'Set-piece battle'

England are unbeaten under coach Eddie Jones and Saturday's match will be their first Test since they whitewashed the Wallabies 3-0 in Australia in June.

"The challenge this week will definitely start up front as the English pack paved the way for their series win over the Wallabies in Australia," said Coetzee.

"It will be a physical challenge and the set-piece battle could prove to be the decisive."

He added: "I believe we have selected the best available team for this Saturday. We have a long list of injured loose forwards, with all of Roelof Smit, Marcell Coetzee, Francois Louw, Jaco Kriel, Siya Kolisi and Sikumbuzo Notshe injured, while a couple are also unavailable for selection."

The Springboks have lost four of their last five Tests, while England have won nine out of nine under coach Eddie Jones.

But the South Africans are, by contrast, undefeated against England since 2006 -- a run spanning 12 Tests.

"England have a lot of belief at the moment ? they have won their last nine matches since the appointment of Eddie Jones as coach," said Coetzee.

"They are always formidable at Twickenham and matches involving our two countries have always delivered close fought encounters.

"They are an extremely well-coached side with no apparent weaknesses and their away series win in Australia proved why they are currently second in the world rankings."

Coetzee added: "They are definite favourites, but we are looking forward to another huge battle against them."

South Africa (15-1)

Willie le Roux; Ruan Combrinck, Francois Venter, Damian de Allende, JP Pietersen; Patrick Lambie, Rudy Paige; Warren Whiteley, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Willem Alberts; Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth; Vincent Koch, Adriaan Strauss (capt), Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff, Lourens Adriaanse, Franco Mostert, Nizaam Carr, Faf de Klerk

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