Cheetahs winger Jongi Nokwe has been handed his Bok debut in the team to face Argentina at Ellis Park.
Nokwe was a surprise addition to the Tri-Nations squad, but due to Bryan Habana’s shoulder injury he will start his first Test for South Africa. Schalk Burger has also been given an extra week to recuperate from his neck ailment (which occurred in the match against the Wallabies), allowing Luke Watson to start as openside flank.
“They [Habana and Burger] both could’ve played, but we now have the luxury of giving them another week to recover,” coach Peter de Villiers said after the team announcement.
De Villiers said Nokwe’s inclusion was due to his impressive try-scoring form this year. “This is just reward for his play in the Super 14 and Currie Cup. He must now show he can make the step up and it also gives us a chance to see who the next guy is we can fall back on in case of injury.”
Adrian Jacobs returns to claim the No 13 jersey after his hamstring strain, while World Cup-winner Jaque Fourie should make his long-awaited Bok comeback off the bench. Fourie du Preez is also included in the 22 for the first time this year after recovering from a hand injury.
Beast Mtawarira will pack down at loosehead in Gurthro Steenkamp’s absence, as De Villiers had been impressed with the Sharks prop whenever he has received the opportunity. “Sometimes a player takes a step up and makes an impression. That is what he [Mtawarira] did, as did Adriaan Strauss. One won’t know if the player is good enough until he gets the chance,” said De Villiers.
Pierre Spies will play his second consecutive Test at eighthman, this time ahead of Joe van Niekerk. If replacement loose-forward Van Niekerk enters the fray it will be his 50th Test, while Percy Montgomery could win his 99th cap on Saturday.
Springboks – 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Adi Jacobs, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Jongi Nokwe, 10 Butch James, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Juan Smith, 6 Luke Watson, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 CJ van der Linde, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira. Subs: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Brian Mujati, 18 Andries Bekker, 19 Joe van Niekerk, 20 Fourie du Preez, 21 Jaque Fourie, 22 Percy Montgomery.