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#RWC2015: Springboks name most experienced team ever for opener

The selection shows six changes from the side that beat Argentina in Buenos Aires a month ago.

FILE: The tight five has been reshuffled, with Lood de Jager and Jannie du Plessis both back from injury, while Bismarck du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira will start yet again. Picture: Anthony Molyneaux/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer named Jean de Villiers as captain of the national side for South Africa's Rugby World Cup opener against Japan.

The starting team boasts a combined total of 880 Test caps, eclipsing the previous most experienced side of 836 caps, which played in the Springboks' last Rugby World Cup match against Australia in New Zealand in 2011.

The selection shows six changes from the side that beat Argentina in Buenos Aires a month ago.

De Villiers' inclusion at inside centre is the only change to the backline, while Francois Louw returns at the side of the scrum.

The tight five has been reshuffled, with Lood de Jager and Jannie du Plessis both back from injury, while Bismarck du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira will start yet again.

On the bench, Coenie Oosthuizen, Fourie du Preez and JP Pietersen return from injury, while Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane and Siya Kolisi find themselves on the bench.

"We've decided to go with some form of continuity as it's important to get a good start in the tournament, but we also wanted to bring back a number of players who have recently recovered from injury," said Meyer.

"It's great to see Jean, Francois, Lood, Jannie, Coenie, Fourie and JP back in action, and while we probably could've played Duane Vermeulen and Eben Etzebeth, in the end we decided to give them another week to fully recover from their injuries.

"The backline is almost unchanged as we also decided to reward the players who did so well in Buenos Aires. There will, in all likelihood, be changes again next week but for now these players deserve another opportunity to stake a claim."

Meyer said Saturday's Test will be a great occasion against an opponent that will challenge the Springboks on different levels.

"We play against the big teams from the Southern and Northern Hemisphere quite often and with them it's mostly a case of you know what to expect," said Meyer.

"But Japan will pose a different threat. They have a very astute coach in Eddie Jones and our players who play in Japan have warned us to expect a very high tempo game and good, low tackling to stop momentum.

"The players know that nothing but their best will be good enough on Saturday and we realise the importance of starting the World Cup on a good note, but having said that, we also know that there is no such thing as an easy game in rugby anymore and they will be just as fired up as us.

"Decision-making will be key on Saturday and it's up the players to know when and how to vary our play. We can play tactically if we have to, but we can also attack with ball in hand and I'd like to see a good blend of that this weekend."

#RWC2015 Meyer: I've been really impressed by Zane. He knows the conditions, but Willie is not out of the mix. He'll definitely get game.

#RWC2015 Meyer: Pat can also play 15. Zane's played 30 test already. I just felt he's done well. And Willie struggling a bit.

#RWC2015 Matfield: Its all about focusing on ourselves. Coach Heyneke said that too. We know it's going to be tough.

Visit the Eyewitness News special Rugby World Cup 2015 portal.

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