Uncapped Juan de Jongh has been named in the Springbok team to face Wales in Cardiff on Saturday, replacing Butch James who has been withdrawn because of contractual issues.
The 21-year-old was named in the No 12 jersey when Springbok coach Peter de Villiers confirmed the team at a press conference in Cardiff on Thursday.
De Jongh is one of three uncapped players from the Vodacom Super 14 finalist Stormers in an otherwise experienced line-up. The other newcomers are wing Gio Aplon and his Cape team-mate Francois Louw.
“This is almost unbelievable, but it’s an exciting moment for me too,” said De Jongh.
“I feel for Butch, but I must now focus on what the team needs from me on Saturday. It’s good to be playing with experienced players like Ruan and Jaque and my experience playing with Jaque in Vodacom Super 14 will also be a great help.”
Springbok coach Peter de Villiers said he was disappointed at the late change but that it provided a great opportunity for the young centre to prove himself.
“This is a great opportunity for Juan, who has had a fantastic Vodacom Super 14 season. He is a talented player who has held his own in a very tough environment and I have faith in his abilities to make the step up.”
Victor Matfield replaces Andries Bekker in the one other change to the starting line-up named on May 22. Zane Kirchner comes on to the bench in place of De Jongh.
James was withdrawn as the Test falls outside the IRB’s designated June “Global Release” window – during which time clubs must release players to their national teams.
SARU hoped to secure the player’s release on Wednesday by virtue of clauses in his contract that allow player release for teams such as the British & Irish Lions and Barbarians. SARU hoped that as no player welfare issue was at stake, James could be similarly released. However Premier Rugby rules prevent the release of players to national unions, except for the final three Saturdays in June.
“SARU, Bath and Butch were all keen to see Butch play but the rule has been strictly enforced,” said Oregan Hoskins, president of the South African Rugby Union (SARU).
“What’s particularly frustrating is that Schalk Brits has just played 33 matches for Saracens and can be released to play for the Barbarians against Ireland this weekend, whereas Butch has played barely a dozen matches this season and he can’t play against Wales.”
Springboks vs Wales
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Saturday 5 June, 2010
15 Francois Steyn (Racing Metro) – 36 caps
14 Gio Aplon (Vodacom Stormers) – uncapped
13 Jaque Fourie (Vodacom Stormers) – 54 caps
12 Juan de Jongh (Vodacom Stormers) – uncapped
11 Odwa Ndungane (Sharks) – 6 caps
10 Ruan Pienaar (Sharks) – 36 caps
9 Ricky Januarie (Vodacom Stormers) – 40 caps
8 Joe van Niekerk (Toulon) – 51 caps
7 Dewald Potgieter (Vodacom Bulls) – 1 cap
6 Francois Louw (Vodacom Stormers) – uncapped
5 Victor Matfield (Vodacom Bulls) – 92 caps
4 Danie Rossouw (Vodacom Bulls) – 46 caps
3 BJ Botha (Ulster) – 19 caps
2 John Smit (Sharks, Capt) – 93 caps
1 CJ van der Linde (Leinster) – 58 caps
16 Chiliboy Ralepelle (Vodacom Bulls) – 8 caps
17 Jannie du Plessis (Sharks) – 12 caps
18 Alistair Hargreaves (Sharks) – uncapped
19 Ryan Kankowski (Sharks) – 11 caps
20 Meyer Bosman (Vodacom Cheetahs) – 3 caps
21 Zane Kirchner (Vodacom Bulls) – 4 caps
22 Bjorn Basson (Vodacom Cheetahs) – uncapped