Freeman in for England’s final bow of 2022

Tommy Freeman is one of four England players to come in as they prepare for their final match of the calendar year against a semi-depleted Springboks.

Freeman is preferred over Jack Nowell on the right-wing, with Nowell having struggled to deal with New Zealand’s relentless crossfield kicking game last weekend.

All three of the other changes come in the forwards, with two in the front row as Mako Vunipola and Jamie George replace Ellis Genge and Luke Cowan-Dickie at loosehead prop and hooker respectively, while Alex Coles comes in at blindside as coach Eddie Jones returns to picking three players who would typically play at second row.

“This is our last game of the autumn and our chance to continue building on the improvements we have made throughout the matches,” Jones said.

“We have made steady progress from game to game, culminating in a pulsating draw against New Zealand.

“Now we have the chance to test ourselves against the might of the world champions.

“We’re going out there to light the crowd up. The support at Twickenham was outstanding last week and we want to work hard on the pitch to make sure we have another atmosphere like that again on Saturday.”

South Africa make as many changes to their starting XV as their opponents, with three of them forced.

Cheslin Kolbe (Toulon), Andre Esterhuizen (Harlequins) and Jasper Wiese (Leicester) are all called back to their clubs having played in South Africa’s thumping victory against Italy last week.

Vincent Koch (Stade Francais) and Cobus Reinach (Northampton Saints) also drop off the bench for the same reason.

Makozele Mapimpi comes in for Kolbe on the wing and Jesse Kriel for Esterhuizen in the centres, while Evan Roos replaces Wiese and in a non-enforced change, Eben Etzebeth replaces for Salmaan Moerat.

Kriel is at 13, with Damian De Allende moving into his more typical inside center position, while Kurt-Lee Arendese is shifted to the right wing Mapimpi to slot in on the left.

“We knew we would have to make changes to the team, but we are pleased with the depth we have built in the wider squad in the last few months, and it is paying off for us this week,” South Africa Head Coach Nienaber said .

Pressed if Rassie Erasmus’ two-game matchday ban was going to affect his side’s preparation for the match he replied: “No, from our side we focus on rugby.

“We’re a tight-knit unit and team, everyone knows what’s going on, we’re open and transparent to everybody.

“Sometimes it’s, I don’t want to say disappointing, what would the right word be? Maybe disappointing is the right word, when there’s only certain facts that go out and then people from the outside, who only have those facts available, form an opinion and give an opinion on something that happened and obviously they don’t know all the facts .

“It is quite sad if you think about it. I think if all the facts are out there that people will probably form a different opinion.”

Many believe Erasmus has damaged his credibility and reputation with his various outbursts on refereeing performances

Analysis by Nick Powell, Online Editor

England are lining-up with the same front row as they did when they were completely outmuscled by the same opposition in the 2019 Rugby World Cup Final, but will have the assurance of last year’s one-point smash-and-grab victory to prove they do not necessarily need to dominate the Springboks physically to win.

But the goal of physical parity is evidently that is one of the reasons Jones has opted again to have a second row at blindside flanker in the form of Alex Coles, as well as him providing the option of a third line-out jumper.

The loss of Wiese in the forwards and Kolbe in the backs is not an ideal one for South Africa, but they have succeeded in the damage limitation job of picking their strongest possible team in an out-of-window test.

Though this is the final test of a long year for both sides, they will know that considering this November a fruitful one largely hinges on this result.

The loser will have only managed one win all Autumn. England’s being against World Number 10 side Japan and South Africa against 12th ranked Italy. Of course, this will apply to both sides if Twickenham is treated to another draw.

The handicap betting amongst bookies is giving England a three-point win but this is as close to a toss-up as you will find in test rugby, and certainly not the most unlikely game to end in another stalemate.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *