Cape Town - Experienced scrumhalf Francois Hougaard will make his 44th Test appearance for the Springboks when they face Argentina in the high altitude of Salta on Saturday evening (21:40 SA time).
Hougaard comes into the Springbok starting XV in place of the injured Ross Cronje, who sustained an ankle injury in the Springboks’ 37-15 triumph over Los Pumas in Port Elizabeth last weekend.
Springbok coach Allister Coetzee said that while the loss of Cronje is a big blow to the team, the Boks are in the fortunate position to call on the services of seasoned campaigner Hougaard.
With Hougaard elevated to the starting team, Rudy Paige moves back into the match-day squad as the replacement scrumhalf.
“Francois has played a lot of Test match rugby, his work ethic is second to none and he has been working hard up to now since joining the squad,” said Coetzee.
“Rudy made a good impact in the third Test against France and I expect the same from him this weekend.”
According to the Springbok coach, the entire match-day 23 played well in Port Elizabeth, making it easy to announce just the one forced change in a week that the team has a short turnaround due to the travel to South America. The consistent team selection also allows the Springboks to continue with their processes and keep building on their continuity.
Coetzee also pointed to the healthy competition for places in the team: “The players outside of the match-23 squad are all knocking on the door and that is a great position to be in.”
Coetzee said the Springboks have to deliver an even better performance in Salta, where a fierce Pumas challenge is expected.
“This is going to be a different challenge but I have no doubt the players will benefit and grow from every tough experience,” Coetzee said.
“Our approach and preparation will be just the same as when we prepared for all our home Tests, and to control whatever we can control.
“We must again show patience, hunger and the desire to execute our game plan.”
The two teams have met twice in Salta before - in 2014, Jean de Villiers’ Springboks clinched a narrow 33-31 win over the Pumas at the high altitude venue, and in 2016 the Argentinians recorded a famous 26-24 win over the South Africans.
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Jaco Kriel, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Beast Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Pieter-Steph Du Toit, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Curwin Bosch, 23 Damian de Allende
15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Ramiro Moyano, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Juan Martin Hernandez, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 7 Tomas Lezana, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matías Alemanno, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustin Creevy (captain), 1 Lucas Noguera
Substitutes: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Santiago García Botta, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Marcos Kremer, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Nicolas Sanchez, 23 Matias Moroni