x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Rugby Championship: Vermeulen handed debut chance against Australia

Duane Vermeulen will make his Test debut for South Africa in Perth this weekend after coach Heyneke Meyer made five changes to his side.

South Africa national coach Henyeke Meyer
South Africa national coach Henyeke Meyer

South Africa will give Duane Vermeulen his Test debut against Australia in Perth on Saturday.

The number eight is one of five changes made for the Rugby Championship clash on the west coast, with coach Heyneke Meyer reacting to the 16-all draw with Argentina last time out.

"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."

Adriaan Strauss has been named at hooker but has until Friday to prove he has recovered from a knee problem, while two of the changes are positional.

Francois Hougaard has moved from the number nine position to the wing, while Willem Alberts will start at flanker to make way for Vermeulen.

Ruan Pienaar gets his first starting spot of the year, whole Juandre Kruger comes in at lock. Francois Louw is included in the 22 for the first time this year and Lwazi Mvovo is on the bench.

Cheetahs fly-half Johan Goosen has also been named among the replacements and if he makes an appearance, it will be his first for the Springboks.

The team has a combined total of 451 Test caps.

South Africa team: 15. Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jean de Villiers (c), 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Morné Steyn, 9, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Beast Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Francois Louw, 20 Johan Goosen, 21 Patrick Lambie, 22 Lwazi Mvovo.

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