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Bakkies Botha to face the Boks at Newlands

Bakkies Botha will be joined by three more South African Test players in the World XV squad for their match against the Springboks on Saturday, July 11 at Newlands in Cape Town.

Bakkies Botha was the hard man of South African rugby.

Bakkies Botha was the hard man of South African rugby.

The erstwhile enforcer of the Boks will be a good test for the current Springboks as Botha does not know how to hold back on a rugby field.

The World XV squad boasts a combined total of 460 Test caps and represents six nations.

Rugby World Cup winning forwards Botha (Toulon) and Gurthrö Steenkamp (Toulouse) will be joined by the Blue Bulls’ JJ Engelbrecht and Flip van der Merwe, as well as former Sharks hooker Craig Burden (Toulon), in the 23-man squad which will be coached by Robbie Deans.

The match – one of just three opportunities to the Springboks in action in South Africa in 2015 – will be the Boks’ first of the year before a shortened Rugby Championship.

It will be a stern test for Heyneke Meyer’s team as they start their preparations for the Rugby World Cup later this year in England.

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The inclusion of players such as Botha, Van der Merwe and Steenkamp, who appeared for the Boks against the World XV a year ago, will mean Meyer’s team will have their work cut out as their opponents are familiar with South Africa’s calls, plays and structures.

Experienced All Blacks Ali Williams and Carl Hayman will join Botha, Steenkamp, Burden and Van der Merwe in a powerful pack that also includes 2014 European Player of the Year Steffon Armitage in the back row and England-qualified prop Petrus du Plessis.

In the backline, Engelbrecht will link up with Wallabies Luke Burgess and Lachie Turner, as well as France’s Maxime Mermoz and Maxime Machenaud.

In total, 10 members of the squad are from Toulon, who completed a hat-trick of European Cup victories when they beat Clermont 24-18 in last month’s final.

Deans, who will share the coaching duties with France’s Bernard Laporte, wants to give Meyer’s men a real examination before they take on the Wallabies in Brisbane the following week.

“As a coach you relish the chance to work with talented players and this World XV has the experience and quality to come together quickly and really test South Africa,” said Deans.

“Toulon have been a dominant force in Europe for the last three years and the South African contingent led by Bakkies Botha will want to be at least competitive against all their former team mates.”

The Springboks were made to work hard early on in their match against the World XV last year, but cut loose in the second half when they turned a slim 18-13 half-time lead into a victory by 47-13 in front of more than 30,000 spectators at DHL Newlands.

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THE 2015 WORLD XV SQUAD:

Forwards:

Steffon Armitage (Toulon, England) – 5 caps
Bakkies Botha (Toulon, South Africa) – 85
Craig Burden (Toulon, South Africa) – uncapped
Petrus du Plessis (Saracens) – uncapped
Carl Hayman (Toulon, New Zealand) – 45
Louis-Benoit Madaule (Bordeaux-Begles) – uncapped
Alexandre Menini (Toulon, France) – 6
David Roumieu (Bayonne) – uncapped
Gurthrö Steenkamp (Toulouse, South Africa) – 53
Jordan Taufua (Crusaders) – uncapped
Flip van der Merwe (Vodacom Blue Bulls, South Africa) – 35
Luke Whitelock (Crusaders, New Zealand) – 1
Ali Williams (Toulon, New Zealand) – 77

Backs:

Delon Armitage (Toulon, England) – 26 caps
Luke Burgess (Melbourne Rebels, Australia) – 37
JJ Engelbrecht (Vodacom Blue Bulls, South Africa) – 12
Mike Harris (Queensland Reds, Australia) – 10
Maxime Machenaud (Racing Metro, France) – 16
Maxime Mermoz (Toulon, France) – 30
David Smith (Toulon) – uncapped
Tom Taylor (Crusaders, New Zealand) – 3
Lachlan Turner (Queensland Reds, Australia) – 15
Rudi Wulf (Toulon, New Zealand) – 4

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