Handre Pollard
Big things are expected of 21-year-old Handre Pollard as he replaces Pat Lambie at fly-half for Samoa clash Getty

A wounded Springboks side know that only a commanding victory will do as South Africa seek to recover their bid for a third World Cup crown against Pool B rivals Samoa at Villa Park and swiftly move on from that devastating defeat to Japan.

Where to watch

South Africa vs Samoa kicks off at 4.45pm BST on Saturday 26 September. Live coverage is available on ITV HD and BBC Radio 5 Live.


Quite unsurprisingly, South Africa's 32-34 loss to the Brave Blossoms in Brighton provoked an astonished and outraged reaction from deflated fans back home. As unquestionably one of the greatest shocks in rugby history, the result reverberated across the sporting world and provided a timely boost to the hopes of the tournament's smaller competitors, who might otherwise view matches against usually dominant tier-one nations as exercises in damage limitation.

Head coach Heyneke Meyer apologised to the nation after watching his vastly experienced team, boasting no fewer than 851 caps before kick-off, neglect their defensive duties and become just the second team to be beaten by 2019 hosts Japan at a World Cup and the first since 1991. In response, he has made no fewer than eight changes to his starting XV, but decided to keep the faith in captain Jean de Villiers, who shifts to outside centre.

Instead, he has replaced Pat Lambie with Bulls fly-half Handre Pollard and restored Willie le Roux to full-back at the expense of Zane Kirchner. Paired with Pollard at half-back is Fourie du Preez, with Ruan Pienaar dropping to the replacements bench. Jesse Kriel is out in favour of Damian de Allende, while JP Pietersen gets the nod over Lwazi Mvovo.

In the pack, towering lock Eben Etzebeth partners veteran and new Northampton signing Victor Matfield as Lodewyk de Jager is demoted. Duane Vermuelen starts at number eight just two months after undergoing a neck operation, bumping Schalk Burger to openside flanker – a position filled by second row Pieter-Steph du Toit last week after Willem Alberts, who has been suffering from a calf problem, withdrew from contention before kick-off. Adriaan Strauss features at hooker ahead of Bismarck du Plessis.

Samoa, meanwhile, were not at their best during a 25-16 win over the United States but capitalised on their opponents' poor discipline to secure victory courtesy of tries from Tim Nanai- Williams and skipper Ofisa Treviranus as well as the boot of Tusi Pisi. The latter, who could make World Cup history against the Springboks if he features with brothers George and Ken, has to make do with a spot on the bench this time around as Stephen Betham chooses to include Mike Stanley at 10.

The physical Pacific islanders have made two other changes to their line-up, bringing in back rower TJ Ioane and Hurricanes hooker Motu Matu'u for Maurie Fa'asavalu and Ole Avei respectively. Vavea Tuilagi, sibling of Alesana and Manu, is a replacement.

Tusi Pisi
Tusi Pisi has been dropped to the bench alongside brother George, but Ken retains his place on the wing (Getty)


South Africa: 15. Le Roux, 14. Pietersen, 13. De Villiers (c), 12. De Allende, 11. Habana, 10. Pollard, 9 Du Preez, 8. Vermeulen, 7. Burger, 6. Louw, 5. Matfield, 4. Etzebeth, 3. J du Plessis, 2. Strauss, 1. Mtawawira

Replacements: 16. Brits, 17. Nyakane, 18. Malherbe, 19. De Jager, 20. Kolisi, 21. Pienaar, 22. Lambie, 23. Kriel.

Samoa: 15. Nanai-Williams, 14. K Pisi, 13. Perez, 12. Lee-Lo, 11. A Tuilagi, 10. Stanley, 9. Fotuali'i, 8. Treviranus (c), 7. Lam, 6. Ioane, 5. Tekori, 4. Paulo, 3. Perenise, 2. Matu'u, 1. Taulafo

Replacements: 16. Avei, 17. Afatia, 18. Johnston, 19. Levave, 20. V Tuilagi, 21. Afemai, 22. T Pisi, 23. G Pisi

What the coaches say

Heyneke Meyer: "Samoa are the type of team that can beat any team they play against. They are probably the most physical team to play against. They've improved their scrummaging, they are now also starting to maul, they've improved their line-out play and they've got game-breakers. If they get on the front foot and you give them space it will be a long day for us. I expect a battle until the last minute.

"We deserve all the criticism. It is unacceptable for the Springboks. We are a proud nation and a proud team. We have had immense support from South Africa, even if we don't deserve it, and I just want to thank all the guys that supported us. I've probably had more emails and texts than ever in my life, even more than when we beat the All Blacks."

Stephen Betham: "We're expecting massive warfare. But in saying that we can't come to a war with our hands and a pocket knife, we've got to bring all we've got and face up. We've always expected South Africa to be our toughest opponent here and that hasn't changed one bit. We expect them to be even harder now because that surprise factor is not in there.

"I think they are going to attack us right from the start. The first 15 minutes will be crucial. We have got to man up in that first 15 minutes because if we shy out in any way then it is going to be a long day at the office. We are not expecting anything less from South Africa. We are expecting a fired up South African side: a side that is out to prove a point, a side that is hungry for a win. They have got all the professional players to do that, and it's just a case of them gelling."

Heyneke Meyer
Heyneke Meyer knows South Africa must produce a strong performance to banish memories of Japan shock (AFP)

Other fixtures

As well as South Africa v Samoa, Saturday will also see Italy take on Canada at Leeds' Elland Road in a match that is unlikely to have too much significance in terms of the outcome of Pool D. Unquestionably the mostly eagerly anticipated contest of the tournament so far is scheduled for the evening, with hosts England welcoming old rivals Wales to Twickenham for a huge Pool A clash.