Experienced scrumhalf Francois Hougaard is the only change from last week to the Springbok starting XV selected to play against Argentina in Salta this Saturday.
With Ross Cronje missing the short tour due to an ankle injury‚ Hougaard was the logical choice to start.
He was on the bench during last weekend’s 37-15 win over the Pumas in a Rugby Championship first round match in Port Elizabeth.
Hougaard‚ who plays for the Worcester Warriors in England‚ started the third Test against France in June when Cronje was also nursing an injury. He will earn his 44th Test cap in Salta.
Bulls scrumhalf Rudy Paige is elevated to the bench with Jano Vermaak‚ who was a late call-up when Cronje cried off‚ making up the numbers in the touring party.
“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‚” coach Allister Coetzee said.
“Rudy made a good impact in the third Test against France and I expect the same from him this weekend.”
According to the Springbok coach‚ he felt the entire match 23 played well in Port Elizabeth‚ making it easy to announce just the one forced change in a week that the team has a short turnaround due to the travel to South America.
The consistent team selection also allows the Springboks to continue with their processes and keep building on their continuity.
The Boks have won four in a row this season but have not won an away match for 22 months.
This is a start of crucial period of three away matches that will be an indication of the team’s progress.
Coetzee also pointed to the healthy competition for places in the team: “The players outside of the match 23 squad are all knocking on the door and that is a great position to be in.”
Coetzee said the Springboks have to deliver an even better performance in Salta‚ where a fierce Puma challenge is expected.
“This is going to be a different challenge but I have no doubt the players will benefit and grow from every tough experience‚” said the Springbok coach.
“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 two teams have met twice in Salta before – in 2014‚ Jean de Villiers’ Springboks clinched a narrow 33-31 win over the Pumas at the high altitude venue‚ and in 2016 the Pumas recorded a famous 26-24 win over the South Africans.
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 Francois Mostert‚ 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain)‚ 3 Coenie Oosthuizen‚ 2 Malcolm Marx‚ 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 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. – TimesLIVE
By: Craig Ray
Source: TMG Digital.