Cape Town - Hardworking prop Ruan Dreyer will make his debut for the Springboks on Saturday in the final Test against France in Johannesburg, while experienced scrumhalf Francois Hougaard and outside centre Jesse Kriel both return to the starting team.
Dreyer, who will become Springbok number 886 when he takes to the field, replaces Frans Malherbe in the front row in one of two changes to the starting pack that defeated the French team last week in Durban.
The other change is at flank as Oupa Mohoje is unavailable after he took a blow to the head last week. His place is filled by 21-year-old Jean-Luc du Preez, who came on as the replacement flank at Kings Park. Jaco Kriel has been selected on the bench.
In the backline, Hougaard replaces Cronje, who was not considered after he had shown symptoms of a delayed concussion. This will be Hougaard’s 42nd Test cap for the Springboks, while Rudy Paige comes into the squad as replacement No 9.
The only other change to the starting team is at outside centre, with Jesse Kriel back after sitting out last week’s Test a result of a bump to the head in the first match two weeks ago in Pretoria.
"I said earlier in the week that we would keep changes in the starting team to a minimum because we have huge respect for this powerful French side," said Coetzee.
"The inclusion of Ruan in the starting team gives us an important opportunity to build capacity in the tighthead position. This is a very important position and it is great to have players such as Coenie Oosthuizen and Steven Kitshoff coming off the bench as a combination, while Ruan will start next to his Lions hooker in Malcolm Marx.
"The same applies for Jaco Kriel, who has fully recovered from his knee injury and he was very good in training the past three weeks. He deserves his chance in the match 23 and he is very eager to play. Jaco was in brilliant form before he got injured and I am sure he will make a huge impact off the bench.
"Jesse had an outstanding game in the first match in Pretoria and he really combined well with Jan Serfontein in the midfield before he was forced to leave the field. The retention of combinations is important because that will add to our continuity.
"The selection of the centre pairing was really a tough task and Lionel Mapoe is perhaps unlucky to lose out on the match 23. He played well in Durban but Jesse was also very good next to Jan Serfontein in Pretoria and my decision is based on developing combinations. Lionel will however get the opportunity to play for the SA ‘A’ side against the French Barbarians on Friday in Soweto."
Coetzee once more cautioned his side to expect a huge onslaught from the French.
"Their camp is clear about it and the players realise there is no place for complacency," the coach said.
"This is their last match of the season and they will be highly motivated to finish on a high, so they will yet again pose a serious threat. We will have to work extremely hard against a very physical French side who will again test us in all departments."
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Dillyn Leyds
15 Brice Dulin, 14 Nans Ducuing, 13 Damian Penaud, 12 Gael Fickou, 11 Virimi Vakatawa, 10 Jules Plisson, 9 Baptiste Serin, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Kevin Gourdon, 6 Yacouba Camara, 5 Romain Taofifenua, 4 Yoann Maestri, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Guilhem Guirado (captain), 1 Jefferson Poirot
Substitutes: 16 Clement Maynadier, 17 Xavier Chiocci, 18 Uini Atonio, 19 Paul Jedrasiak, 20 Loann Goujon, 21 Maxime Machenaud, 22 Francois Trinh-Duc, 23 Vincent Rattez