South Africa name team for TRC opener

by staff

South Africa have made six changes to the team held by England last June for the Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship first-round match against Argentina in Cape Town Saturday.

In comes fullback Zane Kirchner, winger Lwazi Mvovo, centre Francois Steyn, lock Andries Bekker, flanker Willem Alberts and No.8 Keegan Daniels, as the Springboks seek to build on a perfect 13-Test record against the Pumas.

Fullback Gio Aplon, lock Juandre Kruger and flank Jacques Potgieter were dropped by coach Heyneke Meyer, injuries ruled out right wing JP Pietersen and No.8 Pierre Spies, and Japan-bound centre Wynand Olivier was not considered.

Steyn, who rejoined the Sharks in mid-year from French club Racing Metro, will win his 50th cap at Newlands stadium having made his debut against Ireland six seasons ago.

A 14-14 draw with England in wet and cold Port Elizabeth followed victories for the Springboks in Durban (22-17) and Johannesburg (36-27) to get the national team coaching career of Meyer off to a satisfactory start.

The team to face Argentina comprises stars from just three Super 15 franchises with 2012 runners-up Coastal Sharks supplying eight -- including the front and back rows -- Western Stormers four and Northern Bulls three.

Both locks come from the Stormers and the halfbacks from the Bulls, where Meyer slowly but surely established the coaching skills that led to the Pretoria outfit becoming a major domestic and southern hemisphere rugby force.

"We are still rather new as a team and it is good that the players know each other well," Meyer told reporters after announcing his team at a Cape Town hotel.

"Andries was always in our plans and it was a setback to lose him through injury in June while Lwazi has been impressive this year and I know he can fill the huge boots of JP.

"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 Rugby Championship debut and will be tough opponents."

South Africa have a 13-0 record against the South Americans since their first meeting in 1993, scoring 544 points and conceding 272 and the biggest win came four years ago with a 63-9 triumph in Johannesburg.

Springboks Starting XV (15-1)

Zane Kirchner; Lwazi Mvovo, Jean de Villiers (capt), Francois Steyn, Bryan Habana; Morne Steyn, Francois Hougaard; Keegan Daniel, Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee; Andries Bekker, Eben Etzebeth; Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements (16-22)

Adriaan Strauss, Pat Cilliers, Flip van der Merwe, Jacques Potgieter, Ruan Pienaar, Patrick Lambie, JJ Engelbrecht