Francois Hougaard named in South Africa backline as revamped Springboks face Australia
Juan de Jongh and Jesse Kriel also included by coach Allister Coetzee for Saturday’s Rugby Championship test in Brisbane
Francois Hougaard has been selected on the wing as one of three changes in a revamped South African backline for their Rugby Championship test against Australia in Brisbane on Saturday.
Still smarting from the 26-24 loss to Argentina in Salta last time out, coach Allister Coetzee has named a new centre pairing of Juan de Jongh and Jesse Kriel.
The inclusion of Hougaard, who won an Olympic Games bronze medal in rugby sevens last month, for the injured Ruan Combrinck was enforced and means veteran Bryan Habana switches from left wing to the right.
De Jongh, another who played at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, and Kriel replace Damian de Allende and Lionel Mapoe.
“Francois covers two positions for us, on the wing and scrum-half and apart from that he has other good attributes,” Coetzee said.
“He is very competitive and his defensive work is solid because he contests very hard on the ground and is a good finisher.
Watch: Argentina v South Africa
“Juan’s ability to organise at 12 and his calmness in that role will help to guide Elton [Jantjies] in his flyhalf duties.”
In the only change in the forward pack, prop Lourens Adriaanse will earn his first start for the Springboks in place of Vincent Koch.
Lock Eben Etzebeth will become the youngest player to reach the milestone of 50 tests for South Africa at 24 years, nine months and 12 days, beating the previous mark of flyhalf Pat Lambie by three months.
Watch: Australia v New Zealand
Coetzee has opted for six forwards on the bench, including locks Franco Mostert and Pieter-Steph de Toit, as well as prop Trevor Nyakane, who has recovered from an ankle injury.
“Our bench has made a real impact in each match we’ve played this season,” Coetzee said.
“After looking at the Australia versus New Zealand matches, we realise the physical intensity of the forward exchanges, and that’s why we feel that a fresh tight five can sustain the physical intensity.”
Watch New Zealand v Australia
Prop Tendai Mtawarira will play his 81st test, becoming the most capped prop in Bok history after two-time World Cup winner Os du Randt.
South Africa won their opening Rugby Championship match 30-23 at home to Argentina before their loss in Salta.
South Africa team to face Australia
Johan Goosen; Bryan Habana, Jesse Kriel, Juan de Jongh, Francois Hougaard; Elton Jantjies, Faf de Klerk; Warren Whiteley, Oupa Mohoje, Francois Louw; Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth; Lourens Adriaanse, Adriaan Strauss (capt), Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff, Trevor Nyakane, Franco Mostert, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jaco Kriel, Morne Steyn, Lionel Mapoe.