New-look Springboks backline for Brisbane Test

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

South Africa will field a new-look midfield against the Wallabies on Saturday night, with the returning Juan De Jongh set to start.

De Jongh will pair up with Jesse Kriel in the centres, starting for the first time in the Rugby Championship, and in his first run-on berth since returning from a stint with the South African Sevens team in Rio.

Springboks coach Allister Coetzee said the pairing had shown enough off the pine against Argentina to earn spots in the starting team.

“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,” he said.

Francois Hougaard brings some versatility to the backine. Photo: Getty Images“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.”

One of De Jongh's Olympic teammates, Francois Hougaard, has also been handed a starting spot, lining up on he left wing, pushing Bryan Habana on to the opposite edge for Saturday night's clash.

Hougaard replaces the injured Ruan Combrinck, who broke his leg against Argentina, ruling him out for the season.

“Francois covers two positions for us, on the wing and scrumhalf 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 his a good finisher.”

Bryan Habana has shifted to the right wing. Photo: Getty ImagesWhile their backline has been thrown around, the forwards remain relatively stable for the Springboks, with Lourens Adriaanse earning his Test debut at tighthead, in place of Vincent Koc

Coetzee has also opted for six forwards on the bench, preparing for a physical battle in Brisbane.

“The Wallabies are known for their ability to hold onto the ball for long phases, so we are preparing ourselves to make a lot of tackles and to be organised on defence,” said Coetzee, who added that he is expecting the players on the bench to yet again make a strong impact,"he said.

“Our bench has made a real impact in each match we’ve played this season. 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.”

 South Africa team to face the Wallabies at Suncorp Stadium, Saturday at 8:05pm AEST. Buy tickets here.

1. Tendai Mtawarira

2. Adriaan Strauss

3. Lourens Adriaanse

4. Eben Etzebeth

5. Lood de Jager

6. Francois Louw

7. Oupa Mohoje

8. Warren Whiteley

9. Faf de Klerk

10. Elton Jantjies

11. Francois Hougaard

12. Juan de Jongh

13. Jesse Kriel

14. Bryan Habana

15. Johan Goosen


16 Bongi Mbonambi             

17  Steven Kitshoff 

18 Trevor Nyakane 

19 Franco Mostert 

20 Pieter-Steph du Toit

21 Jaco Kriel

22 Morné Steyn

23 Lionel Mapoe     Emirates Lions