Spies (C) hits the half century mark

PIERRE SPIES will play in his 50th Test for South Africa when they take on England at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

Spies was included in a starting 15 that shows three changes from the one that beat England in the second Test of the Castle Incoming Tour. Willem Alberts (flank) and Pat Lambie (fullback) were not declared fit for the Test.

Jacques Potgieter will make his Springbok debut at flank in the place of Alberts, Gio Aplon has been selected at fullback for Lambie and Wynand Olivier comes in at inside centre for Frans Steyn, who is getting married.

There are two changes on the bench. Flyhalf Elton Jantjies has been selected in a Test squad for the first time and will earn his Bok debut if he gets game time, while Ryan Kankowski takes over from Keegan Daniel.

“Injuries have forced us to make a number of changes, which is never ideal, but this provides an opportunity for players like Gio, Wynand and Jacques to put up their hands,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

“Gio is our third fullback of the series, but he’s experienced and has been part of our planning. Wynand came on as a replacement in both of the first two Tests and knows our game plan, while Jacques has impressed this year as a very strong ball carrier – hopefully he can continue with the good work Willem has done in the last fortnight.”

Meyer explained the changes on the bench as follows: “Jacques has not played for a while and we felt Ryan is the right option for this game if he needs to take over from Jacques, with his explosive running. Keegan did very well in the first two Tests, but for this match we felt that Ryan is a better option.

“Elton comes in to provide cover at flyhalf and is a very good goal kicking option, something we will miss with Frans not available. Bjorn Basson still covers all three positions in the back trio, JP Pietersen or Bryan Habana can play outside centre and Jean will move to inside centre if needed, so we are covered in all positions in the backline.”

The starting 15 boast a combined total of 464 Test caps – 299 for the backs and 165 for the forwards.

South Africa v England
Saturday, 23 June 2012 at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-Off: 18:00 (live on Sky Sports HD and BBC Radio 5 Live)

Starting XV:
15. Gio Aplon, 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Jean de Villiers (C), 12. Wynand Olivier, 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Francois Hougaard, 1. Tendai Mtawarira, 2. Bismarck du Plessis (VC), 3. Jannie du Plessis, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 5. Juandré Kruger, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 7. Jacques Potgieter, 8. Pierre Spies

16. Adriaan Strauss, 17. Werner Kruger, 18. Flip van der Merwe, 19. Ryan Kankowski, 20. Ruan Pienaar, 21. Elton Jantjies, 22. Bjorn Basson