Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has picked Juan de Jongh at centre and Gurthrö Steenkamp at prop for Saturday’s Test against Scotland.
De Jongh replaces Jaco Taute at outside centre, while Steenkamp comes into the front row for Beast Mtawarira. The latter player will take no further part on this tour due to a heart condition.
Steenkamp is preferred to start at loosehead ahead of CJ van der Linde and Heinke van der Merwe, who will both sit on the bench. There is no room in the matchday squad for Pat Cilliers.
‘It’s great to have Gurthrö back. We wanted to select him last week, but unfortunately he was not 100% fit,’ said Meyer. ‘Gurthrö is experienced, knows the conditions well and is looking forward to returning to the green and gold as he’s not played for South Africa for more than a year.
‘Juan is in a similar position. Even though he’s played in a number of Tests for us this year, he’s not started for the Boks since last year’s away leg of the Tri-Nations against New Zealand in Wellington.
‘My plan has always been to give him a start on this tour, as he’s been playing very well lately, and I’m excited to see what he brings to the team on Saturday.’
Meyer added that defensive synergy was at the heart of him keeping changes to a minimum. ‘There were some tough calls. I wanted to give some of the youngsters more Tests, but on the other hand we haven’t had a lot of continuity in selection this year and we respect Scotland.
‘Also when I’ve changed the backline in the past our defence has suffered and you saw against the All Blacks that Scotland can really ask questions of your defence.’
As expected, Meyer has persisted with Pat Lambie at flyhalf. However, it is surprising to see that Morné Steyn has been preferred as the back-up flyhalf ahead of Elton Jantjies.
Meyer warned of Scotland’s intent to spoil their breakdown ball and stressed that they would have to counter that tactic. ‘They’ve got a never say die attitude and are hard to the ball. If you don’t get a quick recycle they press you hard and close down your space quickly,’ he said.
‘The breakdown in Super Rugby is refereed differently. Here it is a battle, so if you don’t win the tackle and get the numbers over the ball they can make it very hard for you.
‘On attack they’re quality side and when they had the ball for extended periods against the All Blacks they were superb. There was a 10-minute period that was the difference. We expect a physical and tough game but winning is non-negotiable.’
Springboks – 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermuelen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp.
16 Schalk Brits, 17 Heinke van der Merwe, 18 CJ van der Linde, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Morne Steyn, 22 Jaco Taute, 23 Lwazi Mvovo