Francois Hougaard will wear the No 9 jersey on Saturday. Photo: Nic Bothma, EPA

CAPE TOWN – Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has resisted any possible temptation to make several changes to the team for Saturday’s Rugby Championship return clash against Argentina in Salta.

Francois Hougaard, as expected, comes in for the injured Ross Cronjé (ankle) at scrumhalf from the team that beat Los Pumas 37-15 in Port Elizabeth last weekend.

“Francois has played a lot of Test match rugby, his work ethic is second to none and he has been working hard up to now since joining the squad,” Coetzee said in a statement on Thursday.

“Rudy made a good impact in the third Test against France and I expect the same from him this weekend.”

But the tremendous impact of the bench players in the second half would’ve resulted in them coming into the reckoning for a starting berth this weekend.

Someone such as loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff was outstanding in every respect at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium when he replaced Tendai Mtawarira.

Kitshoff was all over the field, carrying the ball, making tackles and standing strong in the set-pieces.

But Mtawarira was again solid in the scrums, and although he doesn’t have the same high work-rate of the Stormers No 1, Coetzee has opted to retain the experienced Sharks star what is sure to be a robust encounter on Saturday as the Argentines look to hit back after taking a battering in the scrums in PE.

Pieter-Steph du Toit was another to make a statement as the No 5 lock when he appeared, with Franco Mostert not standing out as he usually does.

But Coetzee will hope that the reserves can increase the tempo once more in Salta.

“The players outside of the match-23 squad are all knocking on the door, and that is a great position to be in,” the coach said.

“This is going to be a different challenge, but I have no doubt the players will benefit and grow from every tough experience. Our approach and preparation will be just the same as when we prepared for all our home Tests, and to control whatever we can control.

“We must again show patience, hunger and the desire to execute our game plan.”

The Springboks arrived in Buenos Aires on Thursday after a long trek from Johannesburg, and will move to Salta on Friday.

Springbok Team

15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Jaco Kriel, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

Bench: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Curwin Bosch, 23 Damian de Allende.


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