The Springbok side for Saturday’s Rugby Championship opener against Argentina at FNB Stadium in Soweto shows four changes from the team which beat Samoa in June.
Two of the changes are in the starting XV, both of them in the forwards, and two on the bench for this Test, which forms part of the Nelson Mandela Sport & Culture Day activities.
Upfront, Duane Vermeulen is back in action after an injury lay-off and takes over from the injured Pierre Spies at No 8. At lock, Juandré Kruger and Flip van der Merwe swap places, with the latter moving to the bench and the former starting next to Eben Etzebeth in the middle row.
On the bench, there is a return for the experienced duo of Fourie du Preez and Gurthrö Steenkamp.
“Continuity has been key for us this year and that is why we’ve opted not to make too many changes to the team for Saturday’s Test against Argentina,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
“It’s great to have Duane back at No 8, while Juandré has been doing great work in the line-outs all season long. To have someone of the calibre of Flip on the bench, next to the experience Fourie and Gurthrö bring to the team, is a great situation to be in.”
Looking ahead to the Test, Meyer said: “It’s a marvellous occasion and special to be part of a unique day where we can all celebrate the contributions former president Mandela made to South Africa.
“I think it was clear last year that the Argentineans are not in the Rugby Championship to make up the numbers, which means we will have to be focused on doing the little things right. They’ve been together for a few weeks now and will be a tough opponent on Saturday.
“We’ve now done the hard work on the training pitch and I can see the players are keen to get back onto the field for a Test. Now we need to put into practice what we’ve been working on and continue where we left off against Samoa, looking for try-scoring opportunities in the process.”
The Springbok team to face Argentina in Soweto is:
15. Willie le Roux Griquas 3 caps
14 Bjorn Basson Blue Bulls 9 caps
13 JJ Engelbrecht Blue Bulls 4 caps
12 Jean de Villiers Western Province (captain) 87 caps
11 Bryan Habana Toulon, France 86 caps
10 Morné Steyn Stade Francais, France 45 caps
9 Ruan Pienaar Ulster, N.Ireland 66 caps
8 Duane Vermeulen Western Province 7 caps
7 Willem Alberts Sharks 21 caps
6 Francois Louw Bath, England 19 caps
5 Juandré Kruger Racing Metro, France 11 caps
4 Eben Etzebeth Western Province 14 caps
3 Jannie du Plessis Sharks 45 caps
2 Adriaan Strauss FS Cheetahs 24 caps
1 Tendai Mtawarira Sharks 44 caps
16 Bismarck du Plessis Sharks 48 caps
17 Gurthrö Steenkamp Toulouse, France 40 caps
18 Coenie Oosthuizen FS Cheetahs 4 caps
19 Flip van der Merwe Blue Bulls 26 caps
20 Siya Kolisi Western Province 2 caps
21 Fourie du Preez Suntory Sungoliath, Japan 62 caps
22 Pat Lambie Sharks 23 caps
23 Jan Serfontein Blue Bulls 3 caps