Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has included Francois Hougaard, Juan de Jongh and Jesse Kriel in a revamped backline for the Castle Lager Rugby Championship Test against the Wallabies at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
In the only change amongst the forwards, tighthead prop Lourens Adriaanse will earn his first start for the Springboks in place of Vincent Koch, while Eben Etzebeth will become the youngest player ever to reach the milestone of 50 Tests for South Africa this weekend.
Coetzee made four changes in total to the back division which featured in the loss to Argentina in Salta two week ago. One of them is because of injury while another is a positional switch.
Hougaard comes into the side as replacement for Ruan Combrinck, who suffered a fractured leg against the Pumas, and he will play on the left wing, meaning the experienced Bryan Habana moves over to the right.
The new centre combination of De Jongh and Jesse Kriel gets a run in the place of Damian de Allende and Lionel Mapoe, who has been included on the replacements bench. De Jongh and Kriel both featured as replacements for South Africa in the first two Tests against Argentina, in Nelspruit and Salta.
Franco Mostert has been included as one of the six forward replacements, and the bench also features prop Trevor Nyakane, who has shrugged off his ankle niggle.
Towering lock Etzebeth will become the 32nd Springbok to reach 50th Test matches, at the age of 24 years, nine months and 12 days, surpassing the record previously held by Pat Lambie (25y, 14d). Meanwhile, the big No 4 will also play in his 27th consecutive match for the Springboks.
In another noticeable milestone, loose head prop Tendai Mtawarira is set to play in his 81st Test match thereby becoming the most capped prop in Springbok history, surpassing the record previously held by Os du Randt.
Springbok coach Allister Coetzee said he is excited to see what impact the new players in the team can make in what will be a big challenge on Saturday.
“Looking at the impact that Juan and Jesse made when they came off the bench in Nelspruit and Salta, then I think now is the right time to give them a starting opportunity,” said Springbok coach Allister Coetzee.
“It’s a great opportunity for them to play together as a centre combination and both have Test match experience. Juan’s ability to organise at 12 and his calmness in that role will help to guide Elton in his flyhalf duties.”
Regarding the change in the front row, Coetzee said: “Lourens made a good impact when he came off the bench and we are looking for a similar impact with his inclusion in the starting team. Trevor is fully fit again and he offers us the option of playing on either side of the scrum.”
Coetzee reckons the Springboks will benefit from the versatility of Hougaard, who has already played in 35 Tests for the Springboks.
“Francois covers two positions for us, on the wing and scrumhalf and apart from that he has other good attributes,” said Coetzee.
“He is very competitive and his defensive work is solid because he contests very hard on the ground and his a good finisher.”
Coetzee also said the ability of Australia to hold on to the ball through long spells means the Springbok defence will have to be patient and solid.
“The Wallabies are known for their ability to hold onto the ball for long phases, so we are preparing ourselves to make a lot of tackles and to be organised on defence,” said Coetzee, who added that he is expecting the players on the bench to yet again make a strong impact.
“Our bench has made a real impact in each match we’ve played this season. After looking at the Australia versus New Zealand matches, we realise the physical intensity of the forward exchanges, and that’s why we feel that a fresh tight five can sustain the physical intensity.”
15. Johan Goosen (8)
14. Bryan Habana (119)
13. Jesse Kriel (14)
12. Juan de Jongh (15)
11. Francois Hougaard (35)
10. Elton Jantjies (7)
9. Faf de Klerk (5)
8. Warren Whiteley (8)
7. Oupa Mohoje (10)
6. Francois Louw (48)
5. Lood de Jager (22)
4. Eben Etzebeth (49)
3. Lourens Adriaanse (2)
2. Adriaan Strauss – captain (59)
1. Tendai Mtawarira (80)
17. Steven Kitshoff (3)
18. Trevor Nyakane (25)
19. Franco Mostert (2)
20. Pieter-Steph du Toit (13)
21. Jaco Kriel (3)
22. Morne Steyn (62)
23. Lionel Mapoe (6)