Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has named experienced lock Eben Etzebeth as captain for the Rugby Championship clash against Australia at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Etzebeth takes over the leadership role from regular skipper Siya Kolisi who is recovering from a knee injury. Lions winger Aphiwe Dyantyi was also not considered as he has been ruled out with a hamstring injury.
Etzebeth will lead the Boks for the 12th time in a Test match when he troops on to the Ellis Park turf. Bok coach Rassie Erasmus revealed loose forward Rynhardt Elstadt and scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies would make their Test debuts on Saturday.
Elstadt of Toulouse in France and Jantjies of the Stormers are the only two uncapped players in the starting lineup, while Bulls prop Lizo Gqoboka is expected to make his debut from the bench.
Elstadt is picked at No6 flank in a loose trio that includes the experienced duo of Pieter-Steph du Toit and No8 Francois Louw.
On the bench there is a return to the Bok fold for a number of familiar faces as Erasmus continues to cast his net wide with the 2019 Rugby World Cup in mind. They are Ulster loose forward Marcell Coetzee‚ scrumhalf Cobus Reinach of Northampton Saints‚ utility back Frans Steyn of Montpellier and Dillyn Leyds of the Stormers.
Erasmus said the Springboks are excited as they prepare for the start of the international season.
“The squad have trained together for more than three weeks and this match is important for us to start a very important rugby year‚” said Erasmus. “We want to win the Rugby Championship and have a specific plan‚ which starts Saturday with the first Test against the Wallabies.
“We have planned to mix things up in the first two Tests of the season‚ in order to give game time to as many of the players in our wider squad‚ and we believe this is the right combination to face a very good and competitive Australian side.
“We are excited for the forthcoming year and I want to congratulate Rynhardt‚ Herschel and Lizo on their first inclusions in a Springbok match-day squad.
“The leadership role is not something new for Eben.
“The build-up has been good and there is definitely a very good vibe for match. Australia have prepared well for this match and have spent two weeks at altitude to acclimatise to the Highveld‚ so we are in for a great contest‚” Erasmus said.
SA team: 15. Warrick Gelant‚ 14. Sbu Nkosi‚ 13. Jesse Kriel‚ 12. André Esterhuizen‚ 11. Makazole Mapimpi‚ 10. Elton Jantjies‚ 9. Herschel Jantjies‚ 8. Francois Louw‚ 7. Pieter-Steph du Toit‚ 6. Rynhardt Elstadt‚ 5. Lood de Jager‚ 4. Eben Etzebeth‚ 3. Trevor Nyakane‚ 2. Bongi Mbonambi‚ 1. Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: 16. Schalk Brits‚ 17. Lizo Gqoboka‚ 18. Vincent Koch‚ 19. Marvin Orie‚ 20. Marcell Coetzee‚ 21. Cobus Reinach‚ 22. Frans Steyn‚ 23. Dillyn Leyds