Durban - Four experienced forwards - Malcolm Marx, Eben Etzebeth, Francois Louw and Warren Whiteley - have been included in the Springbok team to face Argentina on Saturday, 18 August in Durban in the opening round of the 2018 Rugby Championship.
All four forwards will make their first appearance this year for the Springboks after missing the June internationals with injury.
Furthermore, two uncapped players, Damian Willemse (utility back) and Marco van Staden (loose forward), were included amongst the replacements and are set to make their Springbok Test debuts off the bench at Kings Park.
Whiteley is making his first appearance in a Springbok jersey in more than a year after he suffered a groin injury last June against France.
Hamstring trouble prevented Marx, South Africa’s Rugby Player of the Year in 2017, from playing in any of the four June internationals against Wales and England.
Etzebeth struggled with arm and back troubles but, like Marx and Whiteley, he has now recovered and is ready for Test match rugby.
The Bok forward pack has a changed look as a result of the returning quartet, with Erasmus shuffling his loose forward combination and lock pairing for the important Durban clash.
Whiteley comes back into the Springbok starting team at No 8, skipper Siya Kolisi moves over to the other side of the scrum into the No 7 jersey while Louw will start in the No 6 shirt in what will be his 58th Test for South Africa.
Etzebeth and his Stormers team-mate Pieter-Steph du Toit are reunited in the Springbok second row, while the imposing Marx will pack down at hooker between Frans Malherbe and the experienced Tendai Mtawarira, who will run out in his 102nd Test for the Springboks.
In the backline, Makazole Mapimpi will start at right wing in the place of the injured Sbu Nkosi, with André Esterhuizen partnering his Sharks team mate Lukhanyo Am in the midfield.
Erasmus said he was pleased with the return to Springbok action of Whiteley, Louw, Etzebeth and Marx.
“Our forward depth is very good indeed and the competition for places in the team is healthy, which can only be a good thing for us as we continue to build the depth of our squad,” said Erasmus.
SA Rugby’s Director of Rugby added that he is expecting a very tough contest from the Pumas and reiterated the Argentineans will be energised by the appointment of Mario Ledesma as their new head coach, as well as the recent impressive performances of the Jaguares in Vodacom Super Rugby.
“Their new coach comes with a lot of technical knowledge and experience from his previous coaching roles which is sure to add more firepower to their traditional strengths,” said Erasmus.
“They will be very confident as a result of the Jaguares’ great run on tour in Australasia, where they won all four their matches on the road, as well as their winning performances against our own franchises.”
Kick-off is at 17:05.
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Makazole Mapimpi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Siya Kolisi (captain), 6 Francois Louw, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Lionel Mapoe, 23 Damian Willemse