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Stormers loose forward Duane Vermeulen will make his Test debut for the Springboks against Australia here on Saturday.
Vermeulen was picked at No 8, where he replaces Willem Alberts, who will move to blindside flank for the dropped Jacques Potgieter.
Due to a number of ill-timed injuries, Vermeulen has waited a long time to get his chance for the Boks.
“Duane has fitted in superbly. He is a great line-out jumper, so it gives us an extra option there. He is a typical number eight – he is physical, tough, and we are going to need that physicality on Saturday,” Bok coach Heyneke Meyer said.
“Although he hasn’t played a Test match, he is an experienced campaigner, if you look at the other guys – as he has played a lot of Super Rugby. I’m looking forward to seeing him play, and I definitely think that he will make a difference on Saturday.”
Meyer also believes that Francois Hougaard can ignite the team with his “game-breaking abilities” against the Aussies.
Meyer shifted Hougaard from scrumhalf to left wing when he named his team today, with former Sharks star Ruan Pienaar, who now plays for Ulster, coming in at No 9. Lwazi Mvovo moves from No 11 to the bench.
There was also good news for Meyer yesterday when hooker and vice-captain Adriaan Strauss was passed fit to play. Strauss has been struggling to recover from a mild knee ligament strain, but took part in today’s practice session and was cleared to play.
“I was quite happy with Adriaan. He came through the session this morning with flying colours,” Meyer said.
The Bok coach also sprung a bit of a surprise by leaving out lock Andries Bekker, with Juandre Kruger earning a recall after last featuring in the England series in June.
“We all know what Ruan Pienaar can do. He is a very experienced player. He has got a great kicking game as well,” Meyer said.
“Francois is a great, great player, and it doesn’t matter where you pick him as he is a game-breaker – we need that game-breaking ability, especially away from home. He gets more width and more space on the wing, and I’m really looking forward to see what he can bring on the wing.”
Bekker played in the two Test matches against Argentina in Cape Town and Mendoza and, despite his good line-out jumping, the Bok coach feels Kruger is better suited to play against the Wallabies.
“We know what we have in Andries, and he is a quality player. He came through a few injuries, and is probably not 100 percent fit. Juandre played really well against England,” Meyer said. “He is not as experienced as Andries, but plays more towards the ball as well. I just feel, for this game – I was happy with our cleaning against Argentina, I wasn’t happy with the way we recycled ball – so it’s a horses-for-courses attitude.”
Cheetahs youngster Johan Goosen has also been included on the bench, and could make his Test debut on Saturday. Former Stormers flank Francois Louw, who only joined the team from Bath in England on Monday, has been included among the reserves as well.