Rassie: We didn't want to risk picking Etzebeth

Cape Town - Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus says the decision not to risk Eben Etzebeth for Saturday's clash against France in Paris was based on the fact that there are still two matches to go on the tour.

Etzebeth injured his foot in last weekend's 12-11 loss to England at Twickenham and while it initially looked like he would be ruled out for weeks, the news on Monday was that he was in line to play against France. 

That, as it turns out, is not the case and Pieter-Steph du Toit will now wear the No 4 jersey while Franco Mostert returns at No 5.

"We believe it would be better not to rush Eben back as we still have two Tests left on the tour (Scotland and Wales) after the match against France," said Erasmus. 

"Franco has started in eight of our 11 Tests this year and he starts with Pieter-Steph du Toit, who is obviously also a good option to move to loose forward later in the match." 

The Bok mentor described France as a dangerous side, saying they would provide the Springboks with formidable opposition on Saturday. 

"The French are very physical and skilful, and we will have to be good on defence and also be disciplined," said Erasmus. 

"The conditions here in the northern hemisphere demand a different approach and while we created a lot of opportunities last week we have to better with our execution."

Kick-off on Saturday is at 22:05 (SA time). 

Players to watch:

For France: One player who will need little motivation for the home side is Louis Picamoles. The behemoth number eight is a superb ball carrier and will be determined to get his side over the advantage line with some barnstorming runs. However, the 32-year-old's game is not just about brute force as he also has some subtleties in his armoury and his ability to offload in the tackle makes him particularly dangerous.

For South Africa: After delivering one of his worst performances in a green and gold jersey, in last weekend's loss to England, Springbok hooker Malcolm Marx can consider himself fortunate to be in the starting line-up for this encounter. At his best, Marx is one of the world's best players and his nomination for the World Rugby Player of the Year award is testament to that. His ball carrying and prowess at the breakdown is excellent but in that Test against England his lineout throw-ins were poor and one of the main reasons for the Boks' defeat. He will be determined to improve in that department against France.

Head-to-head: The battle between the two flyhalves is always important and both France's Camille Lopez and Handre Pollard of the Springboks will be determined to prove their worth to their respective sides, albeit for different reasons. Lopez is a man on a mission. He makes his return to the Test arena after an 18-month break due to a serious ankle injury and will be keen to repay the faith shown in him by his coach. Meanwhile, Pollard will be keen to deliver an improved performance after offering little on attack against England and missed a vital penalty late on in that clash. Both pivots will be expected to dictate the pace of the game and lead the way in the playmaking department.

Previous results:

2018: South Africa won 18-17 in Paris
2017: South Africa won 35-12 in Johannesburg
2017: South Africa won 37-15 in Durban
2017: South Africa won 37-14 in Pretoria
2013: South Africa won 19-10 in Paris
2010: South Africa won 42-17 in Cape Town
2009: France won 20-13 in Toulouse
2006: France won 36-26 in Cape Town

Teams:

France

15 Maxime Medard, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 11 Damian Penaud, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Baptiste Serin, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Arthur Iturria, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 3 Cedate Gomes Sa, 2 Guilhem Guirado (captain), 1 Jefferson Poirot 

Substitutes: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Dany Priso, 18 Rabah Slimani, 19 Paul Gabrillagues, 20 Mathieu Babillot, 21 Antoine Dupont, 22 Anthony Belleau, 23 Gael Fickou

South Africa

15 Willie le Roux, 14 S’bu Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff

Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Francois Louw, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Cheslin Kolbe