Under-fire Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has made four changes to his starting team for Saturday’s Test against France in Paris, the most significant being the inclusion at flyhalf of Handré Pollard.
It will be Pollard’s first start at Test level since the Boks’ bronze-medal playoff match against Argentina at the 2015 World Cup in England.
He takes over from Elton Jantjies who drops to the bench following last weekend’s 38-3 defeat by Ireland in Dublin.
Also back in the starting team for the first time since last year’s November tour is centre Francois Venter, who takes over from Damian de Allende at inside centre.
Up front, experienced loose forward Duane Vermeulen returns to the Boks set-up for the first time since the Irish series last year at No 8, and he’ll partner Siya Kolisi and Francois Louw in a revamped loose trio following the injury suffered last week by Pieter-Steph du Toit.
The other change is at prop, where Wilco Louw will start in place of the injured Coenie Oosthuizen, while on the bench there are also several changes.
Trevor Nyakane is back, while Sharks rookie Dan du Preez is in line to earn a first Test cap if he gets on to the field, while Jantjies and Damian de Allende drop down from the starting team a week ago.
Bok coach Coetzee said Vermeulen’s return would boost the Boks.
“He is very experienced and fits in well with our plan for Saturday. He is a great lineout and ball-carrying option to fill the void left by Pieter-Steph, while his leadership and experience will offer great support to Eben Etzebeth.
“His presence and knowledge of the French will also benefit us... and I am looking forward to seeing him combine with Siya and Francois,” said Coetzee.
Regarding the selection of Pollard, Coetzee said: “He has trained exceptionally hard the last few months, and he is looking forward to starting in the Bok jersey again.
“Elton has started all 10 Tests this season, and I am pleased with his development. However, both flyhalves need game time to continuously work on their game management in different conditions.”
Saturday’s Test kicks off at 10pm.
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Dillyn leyds, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Bench: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Dan du Preez, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Damian de Allende.