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(File image) Flip van der Merwe

Wellington - Flip van der Merwe has been named to replace the suspended Eben Etzebeth among two changes to South Africa's starting lineup for Saturday's Rugby Championship Test against New Zealand at Dunedin.

Etzebeth received a two-match suspension for head-butting his opposite number Nathan Sharpe during the Springboks' loss to Australia in Perth last weekend.

Francois Louw replaces Marcell Coetzee at openside flanker in the only other change to the South African starting 15. Coetzee drops to the reserves bench, where there are four further changes with Dean Greyling, Andries Bekker and Juan de Jongh joining the match 22.

Experienced prop Janie du Plessis has been passed fit to start after overcoming a hamstring injury.

Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer said Louw had been chosen to better combat the All Blacks' loose game, headed by his New Zealand opposite Richie McCaw.

“The New Zealanders are good on the ground which is why we decided to go for a specialist openside flank in Francois,” Meyer said. “Marcell has been very good this season and has played a lot of rugby, but in this match we feel he will be more useful as an impact option.”

Meyer said question marks still surround de Plessis's fitness and he will be given until Friday to convince the coaches and medical staff before being confirmed in the Springboks' starting lineup.

If he is not fully fit his place at tighthead will be taken by Pat Cilliers.

“We will not take any chances with injured players and we have time to get him and Pat (Cilliers) match ready,” Meyer said.

Andries Bekker takes over as lock reserve after Van der Merwe's promotion to the starting 15. The Springboks sought to bring veteran Bakkies Botha to New Zealand as locking cover but his French club Toulon refused to release him.

New Zealand has won its first three matches in the Rugby Championship, beating Australia twice and Argentina once, while the Springboks had a win and a draw against the Pumas before last weekend's loss to Australia.

SOUTH AFRICAN TEAM - Zane Kirchner, Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers (captain), Frans Steyn, Francois Hougaard, Morné Steyn, Ruan Penaar, Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw, Juandre Kruger, Flip van der Merwe, Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Beast Mtawarira.

RESERVES - Tiaan Liebenberg, Dean Greyling, Andries Bekker, Marcell Coetzee, Johan Goosen, Juan de Johngh, Patrick Lambie. - Sapa-AP


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