WELLINGTON – Herschel Jantjies's superb two-try debut for South Africa against Australia last week has propelled the scrumhalf onto the bench for Saturday's Rugby Championship test against New Zealand.
Jantjies will back up the recalled Faf de Klerk for the clash at Wellington Regional Stadium, which is likely to decide the winner of this year's southern hemisphere championship after both sides won their opening games last weekend.
"Herschel definitely put up his hand and said 'listen I can play at this level' and I think he definitely did that," coach Rassie Erasmus told reporters on Wednesday after naming his team.
Number eight Duane Vermeulen will lead the side after he missed last week's 35-17 victory over Australia in Johannesburg, with Erasmus sending an advance party to New Zealand to prepare for the game.
Vermeulen was part of that advance party and Erasmus said he was a natural choice in the absence of regular captain Siya Kolisi, who has been ruled out of the Rugby Championship, and with Eben Etzebeth having played last week.
"Duane has always been part of the leadership group," Erasmus said. "We could have gone with Eben but it was a nice opportunity with the two squads split up and Duane and the boys were already here."
Erasmus added that Kolisi was likely to play Currie Cup after the team face Argentina in Salta on Aug. 10, with the only goal to ensure he made the tournament in Japan.
"He looks like he is close to playing a Currie Cup game," the former Springboks flanker added. I'm pretty confident that Siya will be ready for the World Cup. We just want to get him there."
Last week's captain Etzebeth, blindside flanker Pieter Steph du Toit and winger Makazole Mapimpi are the only players to back up in the starting side from last week.
World Cup winner Frans Steyn has also been included on the bench, with Erasmus confirming that the 32-year-old is part of their planning for the World Cup as a back-up at flyhalf.
"Handre (Pollard) and Elton (Jantjies) are definitely going to the World Cup at 10 so we have to try a few things," Erasmus said. "This is an opportunity to slot Frans Steyn in at 10 or 12. It's not the ideal game for us to do that but we want to try it out."
The clash will also act as a preview for the opening World Cup match with the sides set to meet in a Pool B clash in Yokohama on Sept. 21.
"I'm pretty sure that a lot of the guys we pick are going to play in that test match," Erasmus said. "I think the guys would take a lot of belief into that game.
"We are sitting here thinking this will be the biggest one, but I'm sure in a month we will be saying the same thing."
15-Willie le Roux, 14-Cheslin Kolbe, 13-Lukhanyo Am, 12-Damian de Allende, 11-Makazole Mapimpi, 10-Handre Pollard, 9-Faf de Klerk, 8-Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7-Pieter Steph du Toit, 6-Kwagga Smith, 5-Franco Mostert, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Frans Malherbe, 2-Malcom Marx, 1-Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16-Bongi Mbonambi, 17-Tendai Mtawarira, 18-Trevor Nyakane, 19-RG Snyman, 20-Francois Louw, 21-Herschel Jantjies, 22-Frans Steyn, 23-Jesse KrielReuters