Johannesburg - Springbok rugby coach Heyneke Meyer named Western Province eighthman Duane Vermeulen in his starting line-up for the third Test against Australia in Perth on Saturday.
“We've decided to put Duane straight into the starting team because he is a classic number eight, a position we've lacked in since Pierre Spies got injured and Ryan Kankowski moved to Japan,” Meyer said in Perth on Wednesday.
“I've always admired the way Duane plays rugby and he's fitted in very well the past week. He would've been a Springbok years ago if it had not been for injuries and it's great to finally see him selected.”
Vermeulen's inclusion at the back of the scrum is one of five changes from the starting team that played Argentina in Mendoza a fortnight ago.
Francois Hougaard moves from scrumhalf to left wing and Willem Alberts shifts from eighthman to flank, while lock Juandré Kruger has been re-called to the starting 15, with Ruan Pienaar set to start his first Test of the year at scrumhalf.
In addition, Meyer named Free State Cheetahs' pivot Johan Goosen on the bench and he will earn his first Springbok cap if he makes an appearance at the Paterson's Stadium.
Injury concern Adriaan Strauss was also included at hooker after coming through a first set of fitness tests, but the front-rower will be given until Friday to fully shake off his knee injury.
The changes to the line-up see two further changes to the bench - Francois Louw has been included in the match 22 for the first time this season, while Lwazi Mvovo is also among the replacements.
Meyer said he was pleased to have Goosen in his side and that the youngster could become one of the best flyhalves in world rugby.
“I've been very impressed with his work ethic and attitude since he joined the squad on Thursday in Johannesburg and we will keep on managing him carefully over the next few weeks,” Meyer said.
“Ruan Pienaar brings a more tactical approach to scrumhalf, while I've always been impressed with Francois Hougaard at wing.
“At lock we've decided to go for Juandré Kruger as he plays more to the ball.
“Juandré and Eben Etzebeth played well as a combination in the June Tests against England, and by including Francois Louw on the bench, we have a specialist opensider, but also a versatile loose forward that brings a bit more balance to our back row mix.”
The Springbok team boasts a total of 451 Test caps, with 339 coming from the backline, while the forwards have 112 caps.
Springbok team: Zane Kirchner, Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers (capt), Frans Steyn, Francois Hougaard, Morné Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Juandré Kruger, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: Tiaan Liebenberg, Pat Cilliers, Flip van der Merwe, Francois Louw, Johan Goosen, Pat Lambie, Lwazi Mvovo.