Centres Juan de Jongh and Jesse Kriel will start for the Springboks against the Wallabies in Brisbane on Saturday.
Damian de Allende and Lionel Mapoe have performed as the centre pairing in the Boks’ first five Tests this season, but Allister Coetzee confirmed on Wednesday that De Jongh and Kriel will now start for the first time as a 12-13 combination.
Beyond that big change, Francois Hougaard will make his first Bok appearance since the end of 2014, with the Blitzboks’ Olympic medallist taking over from the injured Ruan Combrinck on the wing.
However, the only change in the pack from the Boks’ last Test against Argentina in Salta sees Lourens Adriaanse set to make his first start ahead of Vincent Koch.
Coetzee has opted for a six-two forwards-to-backs split on the bench, with Franco Mostert and Trevor Nyakane returning to the match 23.
Coetzee said he was excited to see what impact the new players in the team could make on Saturday.
‘Looking at the impact that Juan and Jesse made when they came off the bench in Nelspruit and Salta, then I think now is the right time to give them a starting opportunity. It’s a great opportunity for them to play together as a centre combination and both have Test match experience. Juan’s ability to organise at 12 and his calmness in that role will help to guide Elton in his flyhalf duties.’
He said he also believed the Boks would benefit from the versatility of Hougaard, who has already played in 35 Tests for the Springboks.
‘Francois covers two positions for us, on the wing and scrumhalf and apart from that he has other good attributes. He is very competitive and his defensive work is solid because he contests very hard on the ground and his a good finisher.’
Regarding the change in the front row, Coetzee said it was a big opportunity for Adriaanse to move into the starting lineup after impressing as a replacement.
‘Lourens made a good impact when he came off the bench and we are looking for a similar impact with his inclusion in the starting team. Trevor is fully fit again and he offers us the option of playing on either side of the scrum.’
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