Port Elizabeth – South African Under-20 captain Handré Pollard will make his Test debut for the Springboks in Saturday’s clash against Scotland at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
Pollard is one of six changes to the starting line-up announced by coach Heyneke Meyer this afternoon in PE. The 20-year-old Bulls star will wear the No 10 jersey in place of Morné Steyn, who is unavailable due to French club commitments.
The man originally earmarked for the flyhalf berth, Johan Goosen, has not recovered fully from his knee injury. Lions pivot Marnitz Boshoff will provide cover off the bench.
The other expected new face in the backline is Sharks flyer Lwazi Mvovo, who comes in at left wing vacated by Bryan Habana, who is also unavailable due to French club duties. Mvovo has been in top form off the bench for the Boks and already has eight Test caps.
There are four enforced changes in the pack as well. There is a new-look loose trio, where Marcell Coetzee and Schalk Burger come in for Francois Louw and Willem Alberts respectively. Louw couldn’t be considered due to English club commitments, while Alberts sustained a concussion following a knock to the head during last week’s match against Wales.
A knee injury to Flip van der Merwe sees Cheetahs youngster Lood de Jager earn his first start for the Boks at No 4 lock, while his provincial teammate Coenie Oosthuizen will start at loosehead prop as Tendai Mtawarira is out with a neck problem.
Apart from Pollard, there are four other uncapped players on the substitutes’ bench – Boshoff, Bulls prop Marcel van der Merwe, Sharks lock Stephan Lewies and Cheetahs loose forward Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje. The entire bench is changed from last week’s match, with hooker Adriaan Strauss, prop Trevor Nyakane, scrumhalf Francois Hougaard and fullback Zane Kirchner getting opportunities.
“We had to make a number of changes to the team and while team selection is never easy, especially this week when we had to make a few hard decisions, it’s been great to see the excitement under the players for this final Test of the series,” Bok coach Meyer said today.
“Our plans had always been to try a few new combinations this week against Scotland and I’m looking forward to see the guys grab their opportunities.”
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Coenie Oosthuizen. Bench: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Stephan Lewies, 20 Oupa Mohoje, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Marnitz Boshoff, 23 Zane Kirchner.