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BOK coach Heyneke Meyer has made one positional switch and two changes to the pack which beat Argentina at Newlands last weekend.
Perhaps most notably, though, it was the confirmation that Bryan Habana and Andries Bekker had passed fitness tests.
Injuries have plagued the Springboks this season, with JP Pietersen, Bismarck du Plessis and Pierre Spies recently being ruled out, so it was a much-needed double dose of good news when Habana and Bekker, both of whom sustained ankle injuries at the weekend, were declared available.
“There was a huge sense of relief,” Meyer acknowledged. “The medical team really deserve a lot of credit, particularly getting Bryan ready. Even up until Tuesday, I thought he wasn’t going to play, so it’s great to have him available. We need some sort of continuity and it’s awesome to have some sort of continuity from the previous Test match.”
In two of the three alterations made to the pack from last weekend, Willem Alberts moves to No 8 in place of Keegan Daniel, who drops to the bench, while Jacques Potgieter will make his second start at blindside flank. The other change sees Adriaan Strauss coming in for Du Plessis at hooker, with the Cheetahs player also taking over the vice-captaincy.
“Keegan is a great player who had an impressive Super Rugby season, but if you look at the first Test match, it was very physical. So I just thought it will be great to start with Jacques because he is a bit bigger and more physical,” said Meyer.
“Hopefully when the game opens up later on, Keegan will come on and make a difference because he is a fantastic impact player. So it’s just a horses for courses selection.”
Last weekend, the Springboks botched an opportunity to secure a try-scoring bonus-point, but the team will not stray from their blueprint of “direct rugby” that is based around a game-plan generally complemented by physical gainline dominators such as Alberts and Potgieter.
The Springboks will also know that their task is not going to be any easier on Saturday against a fired-up Argentinian side in front of close to 50 000 fans at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas.
Despite the fact that most of the Argentinian players ply their trade in European competitions, Meyer admitted he had been impressed by their team cohesion.
“Argentina played well as a unit. I thought in the past they have relied a lot on their pack and flyhalf, but I think their backline play was also very good. It wasn’t such a surprise to me, though, because last year I was involved in the Vodacom Cup and there were a number of good youngsters in their Pampas team that went on to win the competition. I think what makes them a good side is that they are very well-balanced with few weaknesses to attack. I thought they were particularly good at the breakdown and on defence.”
Argentina suffered a major injury blow yesterday when star flyhalf Juan Martin Hernandez was ruled out because of a groin injury, with Pumas coach Santiago Phelan set to name the line-up upon the team’s arrival in Mendoza today.