With the series already decided, England will look to end their barren spell in the third and final Test against South Africa in Cape Town.
Eddie Jones’ men have suffered six consecutive defeats, results which have seen them plummet down the world rankings. Once the dominant force in Europe, having won the 2016 and ’17 Six Nations, the Red Rose have slipped significantly and are in the midst of a crisis.
Jones has therefore shuffled the pack with Danny Cipriani finally starting after 10 years out of the XV. George Ford is the player sacrificed after failing to manage the opening two games sufficiently well from the pivot position.
As well as issues with discipline, their kicking out of hand has been a problem throughout this tour and the Australian will look for Cipriani and Ben Youngs to provide that control from half-back.
Youngs is perhaps fortunate to retain his place and it is bemusing that England would take Ben Spencer and Dan Robson and not give them much chance to impress. It is evident that the Red Rose boss does not rate the Wasps player as highly as others but, irrespective of Robson’s omission, Spencer will also be frustrated by his lack of minutes.
You question what Jones will learn from not giving them the required opportunity and what the consequences will be should Youngs and Danny Care go down before the World Cup.
Rassie Erasmus, on the other hand, seems to have got it spot on in terms of giving other members of his squad the requisite game time. The Springboks head coach has fielded an inexperienced backline, with the exciting Warrick Gelant and Andre Esterhuizen both included.
Jessie Kriel and Elton Jantjies also have a chance to impress now that the series has been won, but Erasmus has named a largely unchanged pack, with hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle the only alteration.
On the bench, Embrose Papier is set to win his second cap while it could be a wonderful send off for hooker Schalk Brits, who is due to retire after this match. The ex-Saracens player should already be enjoying his holidays but was called up following Bismarck du Plessis’ withdrawal and it will be a wonderful way to end an outstanding career.
With the changes, England should be firm favourites, however. Although the Vunipolas are out, they will have a bit more continuity than their opponents and the inclusion of a confident Cipriani will give them a lift.
Another factor in their favour is the match taking place away from the Highveld. The Red Rose have struggled to live with the pace of South Africa and Cape Town may be more to their liking.
Players to watch:
For South Africa: Damian de Allende has done a fine job at centre but Andre Esterhuizen has been one of the form individuals in Super Rugby and gets another opportunity to start for the Springboks. The Sharks player featured against Wales and was one of their better performers in a makeshift line-up, but De Allende was preferred for the opening two Tests with England. Esterhuizen is in the mould of your traditional South Africa centre and is a similar player to his Stormers rival, yet the 24-year-old could arguably be more even more devastating. Bigger, stronger and with a slightly better skill set, Rassie Erasmus has a fine player on his hands. A word too for the superb Schalk Brits, who could make his final appearance as a professional should the hooker feature off the bench.
For England: After a decade, Danny Cipriani finally gets a chance in the first XV for the Red Rose, having replaced George Ford in the line-up. Ironically, the fly-half’s last start came against the Springboks in the 2008 end-of-year series, which saw England embarrassed 42-6 at Twickenham. It has been a long road back for Cipriani but this selection is thoroughly deserved after consistently producing in the Premiership over the past four years. From the visitors’ point of view, hopefully he takes his chance as their game-management has been decidedly average in the series so far.
Head-to-head: England have struggled up front with some of their stars simply not performing at their best. They therefore need to win more of the individual duels and Maro Itoje against Franco Mostert is one of them. Itoje was poor in the first Test, conceding far too many penalties, and only improved slightly in Bloemfontein. He has had a physically draining year but the visitors need one last big effort from him. Meanwhile, Mostert has been very solid for South Africa. The Lions lock has not been quite as destructive he can be but the Gloucester-bound player has been extremely efficient in everything that he has done.
2018: South Africa won 23-12 in Bloemfontein 2018: South Africa won 42-39 in Johannesburg 2016: England won 37-21 in London 2014: South Africa won 31-28 in London 2012: South Africa won 16-15 in London 2012: South Africa and England drew 14-14 in Port Elizabeth 2012: South Africa won 36-27 in Johannesburg 2012: South Africa won 22-17 in Durban
Prediction: Both have made a few changes but the tourists need this result more than South Africa, so we think that they will regain a semblance of pride. England by 6.
South Africa: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 S’busiso Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Tendai Mtawarira Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Jean-Luc du Preez, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Handré Pollard, 23 Willie le Roux
England: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Jonny May, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Owen Farrell (c), 11 Mike Brown, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 Maro Itoje, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Joe Marler Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Jonny Hill, 20 Mark Wilson, 21 Sam Simmonds, 22 Ben Spencer, 23 Denny Solomona
Date: Saturday, June 23 Venue: Newlands, Cape Town Kick-off: 17:05 local (16:05 BST, 15:05 GMT) Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand) Assistant Referees: Romain Poite (France), Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand) TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)
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