Cape Town - Coach Allister Coetzee has not often sprung surprises in his Springbok team selections in 2017, but there were a couple ahead of Saturday's clash against the All Blacks in Cape Town.
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With Uzair Cassiem out injured, Coetzee has shifted Francois Louw to the back of the scrum while natural second-rower Pieter-Steph du Toit starts just his third Test in the No 7 jersey.
Louw has never played a Test at No 8.
The Du Toit selection emerges as curious given that his only two starts at flank for the Boks so far both ended in defeat.
The first of those came at the 2015 World Cup under Heyneke Meyer when the Boks were stunned by Japan while the second came last year when they went down 37-21 to England on their end-of-year tour.
In that Twickenham Test, Du Toit's vulnerabilities on defence in the position were exposed.
But with the lineouts a concern for the Boks this Rugby Championship, Coetzee's selection does at least strengthen them in that department with Du Toit, Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager all included for Saturday.
Experience, Coetzee says, was a factor in his loose forward selection as youngster Jean-Luc du Preez must be content with a place on the bench.
"It’s never easy, but the two most important factors that I’ve considered are to go out there and play with your most experienced players, and then secondly make sure that you fix what didn’t go right in Albany," Coetzee explained.
"Our lineouts, if you look at the combination ... it’s a perfect balance. We’ve got Pieter-Steph du Toit, who is a great lineout player, and he carries hard. Then we’ve got the two loosies who can play on the ground and also carry in the wide channels, so for me it’s a good combination.
"I'm confident that there will be an improvement … there has to be.
"Lood is a great lineout exponent, not just on attack but defence. You have to have loosies that can jump. Uzair has been our jumping loose forward and he’s out, so we needed to look at that."
Coetzee added that Du Toit had worked on his defensive positioning in the loose trio and that his struggles in London were a thing of the past.
"It maybe hasn’t gone well on a defensive front but, ever since (London), he’s grown," Coetzee said, adding that Du Toit's body position
"He’s improved a hell of a lot. I think you will see an improved Pieter-Steph du Toit playing at flank this week."
Turning his attention to Louw, Coetzee clearly trusted the Bath man, saying that he was versatile enough to operate in a key position that was occupied by national captain Warren Whiteley at the start of the year.
"Flo is confident playing at No 8. It’s not that he hasn’t played there before … he has played there before," the coach said.
"The big thing about No 8 and No 6 is that they are very similar positions.
"The bonus is that we still have Flo from an 8 position where he can still contest on the ground."
Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:05.
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Francois Louw, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6, Siya Kolisi, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Handre Pollard, 23 Damian de Allende
15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Kane Hames
Substitutes: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 David Havili