Rugby

Faf de Klerk and Handre Pollard to start for South Africa in World Cup final

Faf de Klerk will partner Handre Pollard for the Springboks for a record 25th time (David Davies/PA)
Faf de Klerk will partner Handre Pollard for the Springboks for a record 25th time (David Davies/PA) Faf de Klerk will partner Handre Pollard for the Springboks for a record 25th time (David Davies/PA)

Faf de Klerk and Handre Pollard have been named in South Africa’s starting line-up for Sunday’s World Cup final against New Zealand in Paris.

The return of half-backs De Klerk and Pollard are Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber’s only two changes from the side which started in last week’s 16-15 semi-final win against England.

Former Sale scrum-half De Klerk, 32, now playing in Japan with Yokohama Canon Eagles, and Leicester fly-half Pollard, 29, are among 10 starting players who began the 2019 final against England.

Nienaber told South Africa Rugby’s official website: “This is an experienced team with several players who played in the last Rugby World Cup final and who know exactly what to expect at Stade de France on Saturday and what it will take to retain the title.

“The players who will be playing in their first World Cup final have also proven their worth as warriors throughout this campaign and they are all ready for this massive occasion.

“We know we are in for a colossal battle. Every point and inch will count in this match and we know it will take another top-class effort to come out on top on Saturday.”

De Klerk and Pollard will become the most experienced half-backs in Springbok history, partnering each other for the 25th time and surpassing Joost van der Westhuizen and Henry Honiball.

Handre Pollard kicked South Africa's winning penalty in their semi-final against England
Handre Pollard kicked South Africa's winning penalty in their semi-final against England Handre Pollard kicked South Africa’s winning penalty in their semi-final against England (David Davies/PA)

Mbongeni Mbonambi will start at hooker after being cleared by World Rugby on Thursday morning of racially abusing England’s Tom Curry during last week’s semi-final.

The game’s governing body announced it had found insufficient evidence to pursue the allegation and had closed the case unless additional evidence comes to light.

Nienaber has included 15 players in his squad who appeared in the Springboks’ record 35-7 win against New Zealand at Twickenham in August.

Second row Franco Mostert and prop Steven Kitshoff are the only two forwards named in the starting line-up who did not start in the 2019 final, with both featuring off the bench.