THE Springbok side for Saturday’s Castle Lager Rugby Championship opener against Argentina at Soccer City 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 Castle Lager 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 (GWK Griquas) 3 caps
14 Bjorn Basson (Vodacom Blue Bulls) 9 caps
13 JJ Engelbrecht (Vodacom Blue Bulls) 4 caps
12 Jean de Villiers (DHL 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 (DHL Western Province) 7 caps
7 Willem Alberts (The Sharks) 21 caps
6 Francois Louw (Bath, England) 19 caps
5 Juandré Kruger (Racing Metro, France) 11 caps
4 Eben Etzebeth (DHL Western Province) 14 caps
3 Jannie du Plessis (The Sharks) 45 caps
2 Adriaan Strauss (Toyota FS Cheetahs) 24 caps
1 Tendai Mtawarira (The Sharks) 44 caps
16 Bismarck du Plessis (The Sharks) 48 caps
17 Gurthrö Steenkamp (Toulouse, France) 40 caps
18 Coenie Oosthuizen (Toyota FS Cheetahs) 4 caps
19 Flip van der Merwe (Vodacom Blue Bulls) 26 caps
20 Siya Kolisi (DHL Western Province) 2 caps
21 Fourie du Preez (Suntory Sungoliath, Japan) 62 caps
22 Pat Lambie (The Sharks) 23 caps
23 Jan Serfontein (Vodacom Blue Bulls) 3 caps
Stats and facts:
• The Springbok starting team boasts a total of 485 Test caps (300 in the backline and 185 in the forwards), while there are a further 208 caps worth of experience on the bench.
•South Africa and Argentina have played each other 15 times since 1993, with the Springboks winning 14 Tests and one was drawn. The Springboks have scored 587 points and 74 tries, and conceded 294 points and 27 tries for an average score of 39-20.
•South Africa and Argentina last met on 25 August 2012 in Mendoza during the inaugural Castle Lager Rugby Championship. The game ended in a draw, 16-16.
•Jean de Villiers will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok centre, with 72 Tests in this position.
•Morné Steyn will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok flyhalf, with 44 Tests in this position. If he scores a try, he will extend his record of seven Test tries as a flyhalf for South Africa
•Bryan Habana will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok wing, with 85 Tests in this position. He will also equal Joost van der Westhuizen’s record of six career appearances against Argentina and if he scores a try, Habana will extend his record of 50 Test tries for South Africa.
•Bismarck du Plessis needs a try to become the sole record holder of career tries by a Springbok hooker in Tests. He shares this record of six with John Smit.
•Fourie du Preez is back in the team after playing his last test for South Africa in 2011 – against Australia on 9 October, 2011 in Wellington in the quarter-final of the Rugby World Cup, which South Africa lost 9-11.
•The referee is Chris Pollock of New Zealand. This will be his second Test involving South Africa. On 23 July 2011 he was the man in the middle when South Africa lost 20-39 against Australia in Sydney.
Springbok Test match records at FNB Stadium, Soweto:
• Most points – 17 by Morné Steyn (1c, 5p) against New Zealand on 21 August, 2010.
• Most tries – one by Schalk Burger against New Zealand on 21 August, 2010 and by Bryan Habana against New Zealand 6 October, 2012.
• Most conversions – one by Morné Steyn against New Zealand on 21 August, 2010 and by Johan Goosen against New Zealand on 6 October 2012.
• Most penalty goals – five by Morné Steyn against New Zealand 21 August, 2010.
• No Springbok has ever scored a drop goal in Tests at this venue.
• The Test match against New Zealand on 21 August, 2010 was attended by a crowd of 94,713. This is the official record for a Test match in South Africa.-www.sarugby.net