Cape Town - Pieter-Steph du Toit and Vincent Koch were included in the Springbok starting line-up to face the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship in Christchurch on Saturday, when Francois Louw will play in his 50th Test for South Africa.
Du Toit replaces Lood de Jager, who sustained a severely bruised knee last week against the Wallabies in Brisbane, while Koch gets the nod ahead of Lourens Adriaanse, who started last week in Australia. The rest of the Springbok starting line-up is unchanged.
There are however several changes on the bench. Promising Lions hooker Malcolm Marx gets a first spot amongst the reserves, while Willem Alberts fills the gap on the bench left by Du Toit. Amongst the replacement backline players, Damian de Allende swaps places with Lionel Mapoe.
Regarding the inclusion of Marx and Alberts on the bench, Coetzee said: “Malcolm has huge potential and we have a plan for him and Bongi Mbonambi because of Adriaan’s retirement at the end of the season. Malcolm now gets a chance on the reserve bench and it would be great to see him in action, should he get the chance to go onto the park.
“I have decided on a six-two split on the bench again as I believe Willem and Jaco (Kriel) will each make a big impact when they enter the field of play and I decided to swap Damian with Lionel to ensure we have cover for the inside centre position,” said Coetzee.
Du Toit will resume his provincial partnership with his Stormers lock partner Eben Etzebeth in his first start against the All Blacks.
Coetzee said the Springboks know they will face a formidable and in-form All Black team on Saturday.
“Each match between these two traditional rugby rivals is always tough, no matter what the circumstances are, and Saturday’s Test is bound to be another tremendous battle,” said Coetzee.
“Numerous of our players will play in their first Test against the All Blacks and there’s a good deal of excitement in that regard.
“We know that our discipline was not on par against the Wallabies in Brisbane, and we have to show a big improvement on several fronts. Our defence will have to be solid for the full duration of the match, because the All Blacks have the game breakers that will punish you for any defensive lapse.”
Louw, who made his Test debut against Wales in 2010, will earn his 50th cap for the Springboks on Saturday, while Bryan Habana will play in a landmark 120th Test for the Springboks, and in doing so he will set a new world record for international appearances by a wing.
The encounter between the two traditional rugby rivals marks the Springboks’ 800th rugby match. The Boks have played in 458 Tests since the first tour by the British Isles in 1891, and 341 official non-test matches, the first of which was played on tour to Britain in 1906.
15 Ben Smith 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody
Substitutes: 16 James Parsons, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Matt Todd, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown
15 Johan Goosen, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Jaco Kriel, 22 Morne Steyn, 23 Damian de Allende