Johannesburg - The Springbok team to face New Zealand in Saturday's Rugby Championship clash at Emirates Airline Park shows eight changes to the match-23 which did duty against Australia in Brisbane.
Heinrich Brussow will make his first start for the Springboks since the 2011 Rugby World Cup, while Vincent Koch has been included on the bench for what could be his Test debut for South Africa.
Of the eight changes, three are to the pack and five are on the bench. The backline is unchanged.
Schalk Burger will captain the team from No 8.
Francois Louw will start in the No 7 jersey for the injured Marcell Coetzee in a positional change, with Brussow assuming the openside role. The only other change to the starting line-up is at lock, where Lood de Jager takes over from Victor Matfield, who is sidelined with a hamstring injury.
On the bench, Koch will be joined by Cornal Hendricks, Trevor Nyakane, Flip van der Merwe and Warren Whiteley, who could make his first Test appearance in South Africa in front of his home crowd in Johannesburg.
“Injuries have forced our hand a bit, but we’ve stuck with our planned rotational policy on the bench and it will be great to see what Heinrich, Vincent and Flip can do,” said Meyer.
“The breakdown battle will again be huge and it will be good to see Heinrich and Francois play together. They are versatile players and I am convinced they will combine perfectly.
“Heinrich has been great this season before he got injured and played his way into contention. As with other players returning from injury in Super Rugby, he deserves an opportunity. We decided it was better to start with him and use Warren as an impact player later in the match.
“It’s also great to see Flip back in the fold. We had a look at Pieter-Steph du Toit but he is not yet 100% match-ready, and Franco Mostert was also discussed but in the end we decided to go with Flip as he will add valuable experience to our bench.
“We planned to bring Trevor, Warren and Cornal back for this match. Trevor and Warren have been playing great rugby this season and Cornal is a superb finisher, as he’s shown so often last year.”
Meyer said that the Springboks faced a huge challenge on Saturday as they continue to build towards the Rugby World Cup against a fired-up Kiwi side.
“This will be a massive Test - every match against the All Blacks is,” said Meyer.
“We played some great rugby last weekend, but this week we have to put in an 80-minute effort. We have to be especially focused in the last 10 minutes, because New Zealand always finish strongly. They travelled here with us so that negates any advantage we could’ve had at the end of the match.
“The challenge will also be to make a step up in vital areas of the game and get back on the winning track. By not making too many changes this week, we’re giving some combinations the opportunity to settle a bit more. Our youngsters will have to put up their hands on Saturday - I would not have selected them if I didn’t believe they can do the job.”
Saturday’s clash kicks off at 17:05.
15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Schalk Burger (captain), 7 Francois Louw, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Warren Whiteley, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Cornal Hendricks