SOUTH AFRICA HEAD coach Heyneke Meyer has selected 26-year-old Duane Vermeulen to make his Test debut against Australia on Saturday.
The number eight is one of three players to come into the Springboks’ starting 15, as Meyer rings the changes after the 16-16 draw away to Argentina in the last round of the Rugby Championship.
South Africa will face Australia in Perth with Ruan Pienaar having been brought in as scrum-half, while Juandre Kruger has been selected at lock, with Willem Alberts moving to flanker.
“We’ve decided to put Duane straight into the starting team because he is a classic number eight, a position we’ve lacked in since Pierre Spies got injured and Ryan Kankowski moved to Japan,” Meyer said.
“I’ve always admired the way Duane plays rugby and he’s fitted in very well the past week.
“He would’ve been a Springbok years ago if it had not been for injuries and it’s great to finally see him selected.”
Pienaar’s selection has meant Francois Hougaard has moved to left wing and Lwazi Mvovo has dropped to the bench, while Kruger’s return has forced Andries Bekker out of South Africa’s squad completely.
Cheetahs fly-half Johan Goosen could also make his debut for South Africa in Perth and Meyer is excited about the 20-year-old’s potential.
“The same goes for Johan, who in my mind can become one of the great fly-halves in world rugby,” the Springboks coach said.
“I’ve been very impressed with his work ethic and attitude since he joined the squad on Thursday in Johannesburg and we will keep on managing him carefully over the next few weeks.”
South Africa: Z Kirchner, B Habana, J de Villiers (Capt.), F Steyn, F Hougaard M Steyn, R Pienaar. T Mtawarira, A Strauss, J du Plessis; E Etzebeth, J Kruger; M Coetzee, W Alberts D Vermeulen.
Replacements: T Liebenberg, P Cilliers, F van der Merwe, F Louw, J Goosen, P Lambie, L Mvovo.