Smith adds different dimension

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iol spt aug21 Juan Smith Gallo Images Juan Smith will complete a remarkable return to international rugby when he runs out for the Springboks against Argentina. Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images

Johannesburg – Juan Smith will complete a remarkable return to international rugby when he runs out for the Springboks against Argentina in Salta on Saturday, the SA Rugby Union (Saru) announced.

Smith's inclusion at flank is one of three changes to the starting XV, with a further four changes on the bench, Saru said in a statement on Wednesday.

Prop Gurthro Steenkamp and lock Eben Etzebeth will start in the tight five, with Tendai Mtawarira and Bakkies Botha moving to the bench.

Marcell Coetzee will join them among the replacements after coming in as a late substitute for the injured Willem Alberts last weekend.

The final change to the team, which beat Argentina 13-6 last weekend in Pretoria, was the inclusion of flyer Lwazi Mvovo on the bench.

“We have a couple of options at blindside flank, but we've decided that this will be a great opportunity to give Juan a chance,” Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said.

“If it wasn't for an injury which kept him out in June, he would've played a part in the Castle Lager Incoming Series.

“He was one of Toulon's best players after more than two years out of the game and helped them to win two major competitions.

“Apart from experience and leadership, Juan is a superb ball-carrier and also brilliant at the back of the lineouts, where we missed Willem Alberts last week.”

Meyer said the lineouts were an important attacking platform for the team and it was crucial to improve in this area of the game. He believed Smith would add a different dimension there.

“It's also wonderful to have Eben back to full fitness and he'll slot in at lock without any problems,” Meyer said.

“'Beast' recently returned from an injury which kept him out for some time and it was decided to rotate him and Gurthro mainly because of the short turnaround after our travel to Argentina.”

Saturday's Test will be the Springboks' first visit to Salta, in the north-west of Argentina.

“We're looking forward to the challenge. Although we were happy with the result in Pretoria, we were not happy with the performance,” Meyer said.

“This is an opportunity to show improvement against a tough opponent away from home.”

South Africa team: Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks, Damian de Allende, Jean de Villiers (captain), Bryan Habana, Handre Pollard, Ruan Pienaar, Duane Vermeulen, Juan Smith, Francois Louw, Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis (vice-captain), Gurthro Steenkamp.

Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Tendai Mtawarira, Frans Malherbe, Bakkies Botha, Marcell Coetzee, Francois Hougaard, Morne Steyn, Lwazi Mvovo. – Sapa



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