Lock Victor Matfield will captain the Springboks against Argentina on Saturday, with DHL Stormers tightead prop Frans Malherbe back on the bench after recovering from injury.
Zane Kirchner, Lwazi Mvovo, Pat Lambie, Willem Alberts, Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss and Trevor Nyakane will all make their first starts of the season, whilst Jan Serfontein and former DHL Stormers hooker Schalk Brits have also been included in the match-23 for the first time this season.
A total of 28 players will travel to South America on Wednesday to play the Pumas at the Vélez Sarsfield on Saturday evening (SA time). The match-23 shows numerous changes from the side that lost to Argentina last weekend, many of them injury-enforced.
Kirchner takes over at fullback from the injured Willie le Roux; Jesse Kriel moves from wing to centre for Jean de Villiers, with Mvovo getting his third run of the season (in the No.14 jersey). Alberts replaces the injured Marcell Coetzee in what will be his first Test in more than a year.
“It’s great to have Victor and Willem back from their injuries and we’re all looking forward to going to Buenos Aires and improve on our performance from last weekend,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
“A few more players in our enlarged squad will get opportunities this weekend and I’m excited to see what they can do in difficult circumstances, playing in front of a very noisy crowd against a strong side away from home.
“Willem is the last of the loose forwards in the group to get game-time, but as we’ve missed big ball-carriers up-front, we’d like to see what Pieter-Steph can do in that position. He played at blindside flank for the SA U20s in 2012 when they won the Junior World Championship and was one of their outstanding performers.
“With Willem and Victor both returning from injury, we needed enough cover on the bench – an experienced lock who can take over the calling of the line-outs and a very strong ball-carrier – which is why we went with Flip and Pieter-Steph.
“Our physicality was not what it should have been last week and we need to make a big step up in that department.
“I also thought the front row of Trevor, Adriaan and Marcel finished the match strongly in Durban so it made sense to retain them for this weekend, and Bismarck deserves a break after playing a lot of rugby in the last month.
“We’re under no illusions how big the task is going to be over there but it’s a challenge we have to embrace and make the best out of.”
Lood de Jager, DHL Stormers ace Vincent Koch and Fourie du Preez were ruled out for this weekend.
De Jager injured a pectoral muscle at training on Tuesday afternoon, while Koch took a knock to his knee at the same training session. They will remain in Durban with the other injured players in the squad, Jannie du Plessis, Coenie Oosthuizen, Francois Louw, Coetzee, JP Pietersen and Le Roux and the DHL Stormers pair of Duane Vermeulen and Bok skipper De Villiers.
De Villiers, who fractured his jaw against the Pumas on Saturday, consulted with a specialist earlier in the week, who confirmed that he will be out of action for four to six weeks, during which time he can take part in limited training.
With De Villiers out, Matfield resumes the captaincy role.
“Obviously it’s not ideal that we’ve had to use three captains in our five matches this year, but it’s the hand we’ve been dealt and it’s good to have experienced leaders in our squad, as they play a very valuable role,” said Meyer.
The Springbok team to face Argentina in Buenos Aires is as follows:
15. Zane Kirchner (Leinster) – 29
14. Lwazi Mvovo (Cell C Sharks) – 12
13. Jesse Kriel (Vodacom Bulls) – 3
12. Damian de Allende (DHL Stormers) – 6
11. Bryan Habana (Toulon) – 109
10. Pat Lambie (Cell C Sharks) – 43
9. Ruan Pienaar (Ulster) – 83
8. Schalk Burger (DHL Stormers) – 78
7. Willem Alberts (Cell C Sharks) – 32
6. Heinrich Brüssow (Toyota Cheetahs) – 22
5. Victor Matfield (Vodacom Bulls – captain) – 122
4. Eben Etzebeth (DHL Stormers) – 36
3. Marcel van der Merwe (Vodacom Bulls) – 6
2. Adriaan Strauss (Vodacom Bulls) – 47
1. Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls) – 15
16. Schalk Brits (Saracens) – 7
17. Tendai Mtawarira (Cell C Sharks) – 67
18. Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers) – 5
19. Flip van der Merwe (Vodacom Bulls) – 36
20. Pieter-Steph du Toit (Cell C Sharks) – 3
21. Cobus Reinach (Cell C Sharks) – 9
22. Handré Pollard (Vodacom Bulls) – 12
23. Jan Sefontein (Vodacom Bulls) – 20
Additional tour squad members:
24. Bismarck du Plessis (Cell C Sharks) – 73
25. Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers – Uncapped
26. Siya Kolisi (DHL Stormers) – 11
27. Rudy Paige (Vodacom Bulls) – Uncapped
28. Elton Jantjies (Emirates Lions – 2
BOK STATS AND FACTS:
– The Springbok starting team boasts a total of 643 Test caps (285 in the backline and 358 in the forwards), while there are a further 159 caps worth of experience on the bench.
– South Africa and Argentina have played each other 20 times since 1993, with the Springboks winning 18, losing one and drawing one. The Springboks have scored 753 points and 91 tries and conceded 398 points and 37 tries for an average score of 38-20.
– Bryan Habana will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok wing, with 108 caps in this position. If he scores a try he will extend his record of 58 Test tries for South Africa as well as most Test tries against Argentina (6). He will also play against Argentina for the 11th time, improving on his South African record.
– Victor Matfield will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok in history (122 Tests). He will also extend his record of 122 Tests as a lock and will captain the Springboks for the 22nd time, which will move in equal fifth position with Dawie de Villiers on the all-time list behind John Smit (83), Gary Teichmann (36), Jean de Villiers (35) and Francois Pienaar (29).
– It will be Heyneke Meyer’s 41st Test in charge of the Springboks since he took over in 2012. Of the previous 40 Tests South Africa have won 26, lost 12 and drawn twice. He is third on the all-time list behind Peter de Villiers (48) and Jake White (54).
– There are four sons of former Springboks in the team: Ruan Pienaar (father Gysie), Schalk Burger Jnr (father Schalk Snr), Flip van der Merwe Jnr (father Flippie Snr) and Cobus Reinach (father the late Jaco). There is one grandson of a former Springbok – Pieter-Steph du Toit is the grandson of Piet ‘Spiere’ du Toit. Patrick Lambie is the grandson of a former England International Nick Labuschagne.
– The referee is Glen Jackson of New Zealand. In his only previous Test the Springboks beat Scotland 55-6 in Port Elizabeth in June 2014.