South Africa v England: Talking points ahead of Saturday's third Test at Newlands

Rugby Union
Chris Robshaw
Chris Robshaw

England have already surrendered their series to South Africa ahead of Saturday's third and final Test at Newlands. We examine five talking points heading into the series climax.

Danny's back...

A decade since making his last Test start, Danny Cipriani is back as England's starting playmaker at the expense of George Ford. The nation's finest attacking fly-half has been electric for Wasps this season and, against South Africa, has the platform to convince head coach Eddie Jones he is a genuine option in the position for next year's World Cup.

...and so is Robshaw

Doubts over Chris Robshaw's international future can be silenced only a week after they were first raised. Robshaw made way for Brad Shields at blindside flanker for the second Test in Bloemfontein but the converted Kiwi is stricken with food poisoning, offering a player who had never previously been dropped by England the chance to prove his dip in form is only temporary.

Eddie's safe...for now

Whatever the outcome at Newlands, Jones' immediate future is assured after the Australian was given the backing of his Twickenham paymasters. But if the losing run that currently numbers five Test defeats extends into an autumn schedule comprised of fixtures against South Africa, New Zealand, Japan and Australia, the Rugby Football Union may be forced to act.

Oversized kindergarten

Jones said it would be "ludicrous" to experiment with selection at Newlands, adding his side is "basically barely out of kindergarten" due to it containing a mere "400 caps". The total is actually 545 caps - 197 more than the South Africa side that will take the field in Cape Town. As Jones says, England are in transition, but they have succumbed to a team far more raw than themselves.

Brits on the bench

One of the most dynamic players seen in Premiership history has come out of retirement to secure a place on South Africa's bench. Schalk Brits, a hooker with the skills and step of a centre, had seemingly played his final game in Saracens' title-clinching triumph over Exeter last month until Springboks boss Rassie Erasmus persuaded him to shelve his plans. Now the 37-year-old has been told that if he finds a new club, he could be involved in next year's World Cup.

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