Perth - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer made six changes to his starting line-up on Wednesday when naming his team for Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash against the Wallabies in Perth.
Meyer has reshuffled his front row after his team struggled in the scrums in the 33-31 victory over Argentina in Salta nearly two weeks ago, with Sharks star Tendai Mtawarira replacing Gurthrö Steenkamp at loosehead prop, while Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss comes in for Bismarck du Plessis at hooker.
There are two other changes in the pack, with Victor Matfield now over his hamstring problems to reclaim the No 5 jersey from youngster Lood de Jager, while Marcell Coetzee will run out at blindside flank in place of Juan Smith, who declared himself unavailable so that he can work on his fitness.
Meyer has decided to bring back more experienced operators in the backline in place of youngsters Handré Pollard and Damian de Allende, with Morné Steyn starting at flyhalf and Jan Serfontein at outside centre.
On the bench, there are four new faces in the shape of props Trevor Nyakane and Marcel van der Merwe, as well as loose forward Warren Whiteley and utility back Patrick Lambie. “We were always planning to move our personnel around during the competition,” said Meyer.
“The only new player in the team is Warren, whom I’m very happy for and excited to see what he can do. He covers all three positions in the loose trio and can make an impact later in the game.
“It’s also good to see Pat back in the frame. He’s completed his comeback from a long-term injury and will provide necessary bench cover for flyhalf and fullback.”
Bryan Habana will become the fourth Springbok after Percy Montgomery, John Smit and Matfield to play in 100 Tests when he takes to the Patersons Stadium pitch on Saturday, with Meyer describing the 31-year-old as a “true professional” in the team.
“Apart from scoring tries and always giving 100 percent on the field, Bryan is also a humble servant to the game and a true ambassador for his family, his friends and his country. He will go down in history as one of the greatest rugby players of all time,” Meyer said.
“He is always looking for improvement - I’ve never seen him play a bad game in the Springbok jersey.”
Springbok team: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira. Bench: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Warren Whiteley, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Patrick Lambie, 23 Damian de Allende.