3 changes to Boks’ starting XV

Francois Hougaard (Gallo Images)
Francois Hougaard (Gallo Images)
Cape Town -  The Springbok starting line-up to face Australia shows three changes, with Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje and Francois Hougaard included for Saturday’s fifth round Test in the  Rugby Championship at DHL Newlands in Cape Town.

Francois Louw’s injury means a positional switch for Marcell Coetzee in the starting team. There is a further four changes on the bench, with Cobus Reinach in line to make his Springbok debut alongside the experienced trio of Bakkies Botha, Schalk Burger and JP Pietersen.

The Springbok selectors opted for continuity, retaining the core of the squad that performed well but came up short in tough away fixtures against Australia and New Zealand earlier this month.

“Injuries forced our hand with Francois and Ruan Pienaar not available, but Hougie and Oupa have been part of the squad for the entire season and I’ve got the utmost confidence in them making the step up,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

“Francois brings different strengths to the team at No 9 and has an opportunity to demonstrate the contribution he can make on Saturday, while Oupa is more of a traditional blindside flanker who will get another opportunity to show what he can do in his breakthrough season. He has really come on in leaps and bounds this season and responded to the goals set for him.”

Mohoje will get his first start for the Springboks after making his debut off the bench against Scotland in June. It will be another milestone in a remarkable season, in which he started playing Varsity and Vodacom Cup rugby before getting his break in Vodacom Super Rugby after the Toyota Cheetahs lost a number of loose forwards to injury.

It will be Hougaard’s first start for the Springboks since the final Test in 2012, against England at Twickenham.

Meyer said tactical needs had led to the changes on the bench: “We felt we needed a couple of cool and experienced heads late in our matches and that is where Bakkies, Schalk, JP, Pat Lambie and Bismarck du Plessis will play a vital role – all of them have more than 30 caps.

“I’m also very happy for Cobus, who will follow in the footsteps of his late father having never even played first team at school or any national representative rugby, which is a great compliment for the structures at the Sharks.”

Meyer said the team was under no illusions about Saturday’s Test: “It will be a very tough outing and we will have to fire on all cylinders for the full 80 minutes,” he said. “It’s great to be back in South Africa after three tough matches on the road and we’re really looking forward to playing in front of our own supporters again.

“We’ve had a couple of great training sessions and have been working hard on all aspects of our game this week. There is a definite resolve to improve the quality of our performance on Saturday.”

In line with an agreement with the provinces, Lwazi Mvovo and Warren Whiteley have been released to play in the Absa Currie Cup this weekend. They will re-join the Springbok squad in Johannesburg on Sunday.

Teams:

South Africa
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Bakkies Botha, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 JP Pietersen

Australia
TBA

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