Heyneke Meyer

Bismarck du Plessis remains in an unchanged South Africa side for their World Cup semi-final against New Zealand on Saturday.

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer hailed the current All Blacks as the best side in history as he named his XV for the Twickenham clash. 

Hooker du Plessis had been doubtful after having his hand ‘studded’ accidentally by team-mate Francois Louw during the quarter-final win over Wales at Twickenham last weekend.

But Meyer named du Plessis in the XV which is unchanged from the quarter-final. Veteran lock Victor Matfield, who missed the last three matches with a hamstring injury returns on the bench in place of Pieter-Steph du Toit.

New Zealand have lost just three out of 52 Tests, with two draws, since winning the 2011 World Cup. Meyer said they are the best side in rugby history, but insisted they were still beatable.

“This is probably the best team that’s ever played the game,” said Meyer.

“If you look at their run after the World Cup, they’ve just got better after the previous World Cup, and that doesn’t happen in world rugby,” he added.

“It will need our best performance probably ever to beat them, because they are the best team that there’s ever been,” explained Meyer, whose side did beat New Zealand 27-25 at Johannesburg’s Ellis Park last year.

“In saying that, you have to believe you can beat them.”

Matfield — who came out of Test retirement in 2014 — could start if fellow second row Lodewyk de Jager fails a fitness test on Friday on an injury to a foot tendon suffered against Wales.

“I’ll be able to start, not sure I’ll be able to go 80 minutes with the hamstring,” said the 38-year-old Matfield, a member of the South Africa side that won the 2007 World Cup.

New Zealand, who have won seven of their last nine Tests against South Africa, were due to name their side on Thursday.

Meanwhile du Plessis was confident his hand injury would not hamper him against the All Blacks.

“It was quite funny when I wanted to look at my hand, Francois Louw put his hand over it and said, ‘Please don’t look’,” said du Plessis.

“We’ve been working quite hard on it and hopefully it will be 100 percent on Saturday.”

South Africa needed a late try from skipper Fourie du Preez to see off Wales 23-19 in a hard-fought quarter-final win at Twickenham, while New Zealand were barely tested in a 62-13 last-eight thrashing of France.

South Africa, by contrast, have been under immense pressure ever since a shock loss to Japan in their tournament opener.

“We’ve been in the knockout phase from the get-go after our defeat to Japan,” said du Plessis.

“We’ve had that mindset all the way and we must take that mindset in with us again this week — we only have one chance.”


South Africa (15-1) 

Willie le Roux; JP Pietersen, Jesse Kriel, Damien de Allende, Bryan Habana; Handre Pollard, Fourie du Preez (capt); Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger, Francois Louw; Lodewyk de Jager, Eben Etzebeth; Frans Malherbe, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira 

Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane, Jannie du Plessis, Victor Matfield, Willem Alberts, Ruan Pienaar, Pat Lambie, Jan Serfontein

Coach: Heyneke Meyer (RSA)

Agence France-Presse

- Advertisement -