Cape Town - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Wednesday named his team for this weekend’s Test against Argentina in Buenos Aires.
Victor Matfield will captain the team, which sees the return of Zane Kirchner, Lwazi Mvovo, Pat Lambie, Willem Alberts, Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss and Trevor Nyakane to the starting line-up.
Jan Serfontein and 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 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 Under-20s 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 lineouts 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, 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, Duane Vermeulen, De Villiers, JP Pietersen and Le Roux.
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.
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Lwazi Mvovo, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Schalk Burger, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Trevor Nyakane
Substitutes: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20, Pieter-Steph du Toit, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Handre Pollard, 23 Jan Serfontein
Additional tour squad members:
Bismarck du Plessis, Steven Kitshoff, Siya Kolisi, Rudy Paige, Elton Jantjies