The long wait is finally over for South Africa’s Springboks, who step out against Georgia for their first game of international rugby since lifting the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Over a year-and-a-half has slipped through the hourglass since captain Siya Kolisi lifted the trophy, thanks entirely to the ravages of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Coronavirus continues to lurk not so much in the background on South African soil, but all around with increasing restrictions putting the hotly-anticipated home test series against the British & Irish Lions under the microscope.
But Jacques Nienaber should at least kick off his coaching reign at long last having taken over from Rassie Erasmus.
It’s a one-off fixture under the lights at Emirates Airline Park, as the Boks brush up for the 12-yearly battle with the tourists to come.
And there are plenty of World Cup winners to choose from, with 12 players from the final glory against England involved in Johannesburg.
Skipper Kolisi, 2019 World Player of The Year Pieter-Steph du Toit, Bongi Mbonambi and Eben Etzebeth are all present and correct in the pack.
Fly-half Handre Pollard and full-back Willie le Roux are also putting on the green and gold once again.
Nienaber also hands debuts to a trio of players.
Wing pair Rosko Specman and Aphelele Fassi will hug either touchline for their country for the first time, while Jasper Wiese earns his first appearance from the replacements’ bench.
The visitors had a warm up for their Southern Hemisphere adventure by taking on the Netherlands in the Rugby Europe Championship.
Captained on Friday from inside centre by Merab Sharikadze, the tourists are out to show signs of delivering on their promise over recent years.
A place in the Northern Hemisphere’s Six Nations Championship has been on and off the table for some time, with a battle against the reigning global champions the perfect arena to prove their worth.
International rugby: South Africa vs Georgia prediction and teams
Prediction methodology explained: The expected win percentage is based off publicly available odds. For example, if a team’s odds are 2.30, the expected chance of winning is 43%. If the odds are 1.62 the expected chance of winning is 62% and so on. These are accurate at the time of writing but are subject to change. Where there is no value listed, the odds were not available at the time of writing. Score margins use the methodology developed by Rugby Vision.
South Africa Starting XV: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Rosko Specman, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Aphelele Fassi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Albertus Smith, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse.
Georgia Starting XV: 15 Davit Niniashvili, 14 Akaki Tabutsadze, 13 Giorgi Kveseladze, 12 Merab Sharikadze (captain), 11 Demur Tapladze, 10 Tedo Abzhandadze, 9 Vasil Lobzhaidze, 8 Tornike Jalagonia, 7 Beka Saginadze, 6 Giorgi Tsutskiridze, 5 Konstantine Mikautadze, 4 Gigauri Davit, 3 Giorgi Melikidze, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 Guram Gogichashvili.
Replacements: 16 Giorgi Chkoidze, 17 Nikoloz Khatiashvili, 18 Luka Japaridze, 19 Nodar Cheishvili, 20 Giorgi Javakhia, 21 Gela Aprasidze, 22 Giorgi Babunashvili, 23 Ilia Spanderashvili.