Western Province No 8 Duane Vermeulen will make his Springbok debut against Australia in Perth on Saturday, in South Africa’s third Test in The Rugby Championship for 2012.
In addition, Toyota Free State Cheetahs flyhalf Johan Goosen has been selected on the bench and will earn his first Springbok cap if he makes an appearance at Paterson’s Stadium.
Adriaan Strauss has been included at hooker after coming through a first set of fitness tests, but he will be given until Friday to fully shake off his knee injury.
Vermeulen’s inclusion at the back of the scrum is one of five changes from the starting team that played Argentina in Mendoza recently. Two of these changes are positional, with Francois Hougaard moving from scrumhalf to left wing and Willem Alberts shifting from No 8 to flank.
Apart from Vermeulen, there is a recall for lock Juandré Kruger, while Ruan Pienaar will start his first Test of 2012 at scrumhalf. This has resulted in two further changes to the bench – Francois Louw has been included in the match 22 for the first time this season, while Lwazi Mvovo is also among the replacements.
“We’ve decided to put Duane straight into the starting team because he is a classic No 8, a position we’ve lacked in since Pierre Spies got injured and Ryan Kankowski moved to Japan,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer in Perth on Wednesday.
“I’ve always admired the way Duane plays rugby and he’s fitted in very well the past week. He would’ve been a Springbok years ago if it had not been for injuries and it’s great to finally see him selected.
“The same goes for Johan, who in my mind can become one of the great flyhalves in world rugby. I’ve been very impressed with his work ethic and attitude since he joined the squad on Thursday in Johannesburg and we will keep on managing him carefully over the next few weeks.”
Commenting on the other changes to the team, Meyer said: “Ruan brings a more tactical approach to scrumhalf, while I’ve always been impressed with Francois at wing.
“At lock we’ve decided to go for Juandré as he plays more to the ball. Juandré and Eben played well as a combination in the June Tests against England. And by including Francois on the bench, we have a specialist opensider, but also a versatile loose forward that brings a bit more balance to our back row mix.”
The Springbok team boasts a total of 451 Test caps: 339 of those are in the backline, while the forwards have 112 caps – one more than the total of Springbok caps accumulated by former captain John Smit in his career.
The Springbok team to face Australia in Perth is: 15. Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jean de Villiers (c), 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Morné Steyn, 9, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Bench: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Francois Louw, 20 Johan Goosen, 21 Patrick Lambie, 22 Lwazi Mvovo.