Declan Kidney, Ireland’s coach, insists that South Africa’s Springboks are still a threat despite the fact that they finished at the bottom of Tri-Nations table and 13 players have pulled out due to injury.
Kidney still insists that the team will be a threat to Ireland, on Saturday at the Aviva Stadium, with feared second row pairing Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield teaming up once again.
"They didn't have Bakkies Botha and Juan Smith playing last year and I wasn't too unhappy about that, but now they're back…They're a very strong outfit and it will be a big challenge,” said Kidney.
"They have the most experienced second row combination in the world.
"Bakkies and Victor have enormous experience. If they're not the best, then they must be close to it."
The Irish team will welcome back a number of key players for the opening Test of the Guinness Series. Luke Fitzgerald, Jamie Heaslip, David Wallace and Stephen Ferris will all be returning.
A look at the teams:
15 Rob Kearney, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Brian O'Driscoll (c), 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 David Wallace, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Mick O'Driscoll, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Tony Buckley, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy.
15 Gio Aplon, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 Zane Kirchner, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Juan Smith, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Keegan Daniel, 20 François Hougaard, 21 Adi Jacobs, 22 Patrick Lambie.