Jean de Villiers will captain a Springbok side also featuring the return of Pieter-Steph du Toit and Siya Kolisi in the match-23 for the 1st time since 2013, when the Springboks host Los Pumas at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.
De Villiers will continue his remarkable recovery from the terrible knee injury he suffered last November in Cardiff and will start his 1st Test of the season. He will lead the team against the Pumas from outside centre, with Schalk Burger taking over the vice-captaincy.
As a result of De Villiers’ inclusion for the final Test in The Rugby Championship, Jesse Kriel will move to right wing.
“Jean’s comeback is truly remarkable and very inspirational and I can’t wait to see what he can offer playing next to exciting youngsters such as Handré Pollard, Damian and Jesse,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
“Jean now has 160 minutes of rugby behind him since his comeback a month ago and I’m very satisfied that he will be able to make his mark as player and captain.
“Jesse is a very versatile player – he has played at wing before and spent almost the entire Vodacom Super Rugby season at fullback. His aerial skills and work-rate, as well as tactical kicking will be valuable and hopefully he will be given even more space to attack in.”
The forwards on the bench are again rotated due to injuries and players recovering from injuries, which sees the return of Siya Kolisi and and Pieter-Steph du Toit, both of whom made their last Test appearance as replacements in the 19 / 10 victory over France in Paris on 23 November, 2013.
“Siya missed most of last season because of injury and lack of form but his attitude has been great and he’s been working incredibly hard. He is playing good rugby this year and his inclusion is in line with our decision to keep on mixing things up as we get ready for the Rugby World Cup,” said Meyer.
“Pieter-Steph has also been very unlucky with injuries but his rehabilitation has gone exactly to plan and he got through 40 minutes of rugby for the Cell C Sharks last weekend. It’s clear from training that he is raring to go and I have to compliment everybody involved in his rehab.”
The other changes to the team are all injury-enforced. Marcell Coetzee is back and will take over at flank from Francois Louw, while Vincent Koch will get his 1st start for the Springboks, in place of Jannie du Plessis. Marcel van der Merwe (tighthead prop) has been pulled up to the bench for his 1st Test of 2015, while Lwazi Mvovo (wing) is also back.
“It will be a massive Test on Saturday, which is why he have decided to build momentum and give combinations more time to settle,” said Meyer.
“We will never accept that we lost our last 2 Tests. On both occasions we were in positions to win and we let it slip, which is simply not good enough. It will be tough as the Argentineans will be coming for us, as they have been doing in the last 3 seasons, but it will be a great test for the Boks and I can’t wait for the challenge on Saturday.
“There have been many encouraging signs in Brisbane and Johannesburg but I’ve always preferred winning results. For most of these matches, we played well, but now we need to get back to winning ways and to do that we have to convert our opportunities into points.”
Meyer added that although Fourie du Preez and Willem Alberts started training with the squad this week, it was decided to give them more time to fully recover from their injuries. Warren Whiteley, Frans Malherbe and Steven Kitshoff were also given more time to fully recover from their injuries.
“They are not 100% ready yet and with the World Cup now 6 weeks away, we decided against risking them in this match. Whenever the time is right for them to play again, we’ll select them,” said Meyer.
The other injured players not considered for selection were JP Pietersen, Victor Matfield, Francois Louw and and Jannie du Plessis.
Springboks: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Jesse Kriel, 13 Jean de Villiers (Captain, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Schalk Burger (Vice-captain), 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Lwazi Mvovo.
Date: Saturday 8 August
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Kick-Off: 17:05 SA Time (15:05 GMT)
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant Referees: JP Doyle (England), Marius Mitrea (Italy)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)