50-Up For Steyn
Springbok centre Frans Steyn will on Saturday play in his 50th Test for South Africa when they take on Argentina in the opening round of The Rugby Championship at Newlands in Cape Town.
The 25-year-old Steyn, who made his Test debut against Ireland in 2006, will become the 23rd player to reach 50 Test caps for South Africa. He is back at inside centre after missing the third England Test in June because of his own wedding.
Apart from Steyn’s return, two Springboks who have yet to feature this year are also back. They are lock Andries Bekker and left wing Lwazi Mvovo.
Mvovo replaces the injured JP Pietersen with Bryan Habana switching to right wing. Bekker replaces Juandré Kruger in the middle row for his first Test in more than two years. Keegan Daniel will start his first Test for South Africa and comes in at No 8 for the injured Pierre Spies.
In the only other changes from the team that played England in Port Elizabeth, Willem Alberts returns to flank in the place of Jacques Potgieter, who is on the bench, while Zane Kirchner is back at fullback for Gio Aplon.
In total there are five changes from the team that started in Port Elizabeth. The Springbok team has a combined total of 432 Test caps for this Test – 157 amongst the forwards and 275 for the backs.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer decided to stick with combinations for the Test against Argentina – the front row and loose forwards are from the Sharks, the locks play together for the Stormers and the halfbacks are from the Bulls.
“We’ve now been together for the June Tests and have had a good week to prepare, but we are still rather new as a team and it’s good that the players know each other,” said Meyer.
“Andries was always in our plans and it was a setback to lose him in June, while Lwazi has been impressive this year and I know he can fill the huge boots of JP. We’re still a young team when it comes to experience, but this is Test rugby and there is no place to hide.
“The players have been working very hard on the training field and we now need to translate that to the Test. Argentina will be fired up as they are making their debut in The Castle Rugby Championship and we know they will be a tough opponent on Saturday.”
There are two players on the bench that will be making their debut should they get game time – prop Pat Cilliers and utility back JJ Engelbrecht. Pat Lambie is also back on the bench after missing the Test in Port Elizabeth because of an ankle injury.
“We decided to go for these two because of their utility value – Pat Cilliers can scrum on both sides and JJ covers outside centre and wing, which JP Pietersen used to do for us,” said Meyer.
South Africa: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Jacques Potgieter, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Pat Lambie, 22 JJ Engelbrecht.