Boks name three new caps to face England
June 6, 2012
The three uncapped players who have been handed starts ahead of Saturday © Getty Images
Heyneke Meyer has unveiled his first XV since taking over as South Africa coach, handing out three Test debuts to face England in Durban on Saturday.
Eben Etzebeth, Marcell Coetzee and Juandre Kruger have been given starts, with Bismarck du Plessis confirmed as vice-captain, behind centre Jean De Villiers.
With both Heinrich Brussow and Fourie du Preez omitted from the Springboks squad for their three Tests with England, the uncapped Coetzee gets the nod at openside and Bulls scrum-half Francois Hougaard is handed the scrum-half berth.
While there are the trio of new faces in the side, Meyer has kept faith with the bulk of their 2011 Rugby World Cup squad. JP Pietersen and Bryan Habana are named on the wings, despite both getting playing time at outside-centre so far in Super Rugby, with Morne Steyn partnering Hougaard at halfback.
In the front-row, Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira is handed the loose-head berth with the Du Plessis brothers alongside him. In the second-row where there is a wealth of new blood. Etzebeth, aged just 20, has shone for the Stormers so far this season while Kruger has filled the void left by the retired Victor Matfield and the Toulon-bound Bakkies Botha at the Bulls. Sharks flanker Willem Alberts partners Bulls' No.8 Pierre Spies and Coetzee in the back-row.
Coenie Oosthuizen will make his Test debut for the Boks if he gets a chance from the bench.
Talking of the potentially four debutants, Meyer said: "Eben, Juandre, Marcell and Coenie have all put up their hands this season and I know they can succeed at Test level. Although the team is quite young, we still have some experience across the starting 15.
"The balance in the team is right in the way we want to play against England and we're looking forward to the first Test of the season. I have faith in the players and the ball is now in their hands to show they have what it takes to perform constantly at this level as we enter a new Springbok era."
South Africa: Z Kirchner (Bulls); JP Pietersen (Sharks), F Steyn (Sharks), J de Villiers (Stormers, capt), B Habana (Stormers); M Steyn (Bulls), F Hougaard (Bulls); T Mtawarira (Sharks), B du Plessis (Sharks), J du Plessis (Sharks), E Etzebeth (Stormers), J Kruger (Bulls), W Alberts (Sharks), M Coetzee (Sharks), P Spies (Bulls)
Replacements: A Strauss (Cheetahs), C Oosthuizen (Cheetahs), F Van Der Merwe (Bulls), K Daniel (Sharks), R Pienaar (Ulster), P Lambie (Sharks), W Olivier (Bulls)
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