Ross Cronjé has shrugged off his ankle injury and comes back at scrumhalf in the Springbok team for Saturday’s important third round of The Rugby Championship Test in Perth against Australia.
Cronjé, who has established himself as the regular No 9 this season for the Boks, missed the away victory over the Pumas in Salta because of an ankle ligament sprain he suffered in the Port Elizabeth match.
He resumes the scrumhalf duties next to flyhalf Elton Jantjies, while Francois Hougaard returns to the bench.
The only other change to the starting team is at lock, Franco Mostert gets a well-deserved break with Pieter-Steph du Toit returning to the starting team for the first time this season in a rotational switch.
Mostert has been a stalwart for the Springboks and the Emirates Lions this season and gets a break because of his heavy workload.
Du Toit is the current SA Rugby Player of the Year and the big lock is reunited in the second row with Bok captain, Eben Etzebeth, who makes his 60th appearance on Saturday. The 25-year old Etzebeth leads the Springboks for the fourth time this season, while Lood de Jager will start on the bench.
The final change to the match-23 that played in Salta sees the inclusion of experienced flyhalf Handré Pollard amongst the reserves. Pollard, who can also easily slot into midfield if needed, makes his first appearance in a match day squad since the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Mostert has established himself as the starting No 5 lock this year, and has been a stalwart figure in the Springboks’ five wins so far this season.
“Franco has played an enormous amount of rugby – at Vodacom Super Rugby level, playing club rugby in Japan and starting all of our Tests matches so far this year,” said Coetzee.
“We have to be sensible in managing the workload of certain players, such as Franco. We are fortunate to have a number of very good locks. Pieter-Steph now gets an opportunity to start again, and we know what he is capable of.”
Pollard has fought his way back to full fitness and comes onto the replacement bench. According to Coetzee, Pollard has worked extremely hard to get back into selection frame after another injury sustained earlier this year.
“I am really satisfied with the way he has trained till now and it’s great for the team to have a player of his calibre on the bench,” said Coetzee.
Coetzee praised the hard work and attitude of the squad, which has resulted in five Springbok wins in a row. The Boks scored a 3-0 series win over France in June and defeated Argentina home and away in the opening rounds of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship.
“Even though we travelled to three continents in ten days, this group has the desire to get better, and learn from previous experiences,” said Coetzee.
“The performance in Salta was not perfect, but we are looking forward to the next opportunity to improve as individuals and as a team.”
The Springbok coach again emphasised that the Wallabies will come with a massive challenge on Saturday: “They are a well-coached side, with great deception on attack. Their playmakers and strike runners complement each other very well and we will have to be very sharp on defence.
“If you look at their performances against New Zealand, you will see how well they have functioned in scoring nine tries and 63 points in two matches,” said Coetzee.
15. Andries Coetzee (Emirates Lions), 5 caps
14. Raymond Rhule (Toyota Cheetahs), 5 caps
13. Jesse Kriel (Vodacom Bulls), 21 caps
12. Jan Serfontein (Vodacom Bulls), 31 caps
11. Courtnall Skosan (Emirates Lions), 5 caps
10. Elton Jantjies (Emirates Lions), 16 caps
9. Ross Cronje (Emirates Lions), 3 caps
8. Uzair Cassiem (Toyota Cheetahs) 3 caps
7. Jaco Kriel (Emirates Lions), 10 caps
6. Siya Kolisi (DHL Stormers), 21 caps
5. Pieter-Steph du Toit (DHL Stormers), 25 caps
4. Eben Etzebeth (captain, DHL Stormers), 59 caps
3. Coenie Oosthuizen (Cell C Sharks), 28 caps
2. Malcolm Marx (Emirates Lions), 7 caps,
1. Tendai Mtawarira (Cell C Sharks), 92 caps
16. Bongi Mbonambi (DHL Stormers), 10 caps
17. Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers), 15 caps
18. Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls), 30 caps
19. Lood de Jager (Vodacom Bulls), 29 caps
20. Jean-Luc du Preez (Cell C Sharks), 6 caps
21. Francois Hougaard (Worcester Warriors, England) 44 caps
22. Handré Pollard (Vodacom Bulls), 20 caps, 188 points
23. Damian de Allende (DHL Stormers), 24 caps
- Saturday’s Test match will be the Springboks’ first match at the nib Stadium, which was built in 1910 and renovated in 2004 and 2012. It is the home of the Western Force since 2010 and the seating capacity is 20 251.
- South Africa’s first Test match in Perth against Australia was played in 1998 when Gary Teichmann’s team won by 14-13. The last time that South Africa were victorious in Perth was in August 2009, when the side led by John Smit won 32-25.
- To date, eight Test matches were played in Perth against Australia. The Springbok record for the eight matches is: P 8; W 3; L 4; D 1. PF: 159; PA: 167; TF: 13; TA: 17; Average score: 20-21. Win%: 38%.
- South Africa’s record in Australia is: P 37; W 12; L 24; D 1; PF: 601; PA: 796; TF: 72; TA: 82; Average score: 16-22. Win%: 32%.
- South Africa’s overall record against Australia: P: 83; W: 46; L: 36; D: 1; PF: 1 607; PA: 1 448; TF: 188; TA: 148; Average score: 19-17. Win%: 55%.