Deon Stegmann will make his Test debut in a much-changed Springbok line-up against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday. Uncapped Sharks utility back Patrick Lambie could also make his debut if Jean de Villiers fails a late fitness. The bench will also include two uncapped players.
The team shows eight changes (nine if De Villiers is unavailable) to the one which ended the Vodacom Tri-Nations against Australia in September. The six definite survivors are Bryan Habana, Morne Steyn, Pierre Spies, Juan Smith, captain Victor Matfield and Jannie du Plessis. A seventh, Francois Hougaard is on the bench, while an eighth in Frans Steyn will only join the squad after the Ireland match.
Stegmann, 24, comes in for Schalk Burger in the No 6 jersey. Burger suffered a broken rib in the Absa Currie Cup final and withdrew from the tour party.
The 20-year-old Lambie – man of the match in the Absa Currie Cup final after a two-try, 25-point haul on Saturday – is on standby to replace Jean de Villiers at inside centre if he fails to recover from his groin injury.
Lambie’s Sharks team-mates Willem Alberts or Keegan Daniel (looseforward) and Lwazi Mvovo (wing) could also make their debuts from the bench.
“It’s a new-look side but with 13 season-ending injuries it couldn’t be anything else,” said Peter de Villiers, when the Springbok coach announced the team in Dublin today. “But we’re looking on the positive side and this is a great opportunity to test some new players in the toughest conditions.
“We also have a number of senior players returning to the team after long lay-offs for one reason or another and they are keen to re-stake their claim to a starting place. We’ve not had much time to bed this new team together but the players have worked hard all week to be as well prepared as we possibly can be.”
Front rankers Tendai Mtawarira and Bismarck du Plessis make their first appearances of the season while Bakkies Botha returns after suspension. Ulster-based Ruan Pienaar returns to the No 9 jersey he last wore against the Wallabies in Australia in July while wing Bjorn Basson and centre Zane Kirchner make their first appearances since June.
De Villiers said injuries to experienced centres Jaque Fourie, Wynand Olivier and Jean de Villiers as well as exciting new talent Juan de Jongh and the unavailability of Frans Steyn for this Test had made the backline selection challenging.
“Our hand has been forced in our centre selection,” he said. “Hopefully Jean will recover in time but if not, Patrick Lambie has played at inside centre for The Sharks before he was moved to 10 and Zane is defensively strong and a strong ball runner.”
The pack is more settled with only debutant Stegmann having played fewer than 20 Tests.
“Deon is an openside in the traditional style and has been outstanding for his province,” said De Villiers. “He is used to playing with Pierre and we need an out and out specialist to counter Ireland at the breakdown.”
South Africa v Ireland
Aviva Stadium, Dublin, 6 November 2010
Name Province Age Caps
15 Gio Aplon Vodacom Western Province 28 9
14 Bjorn Basson Vodacom Blue Bulls 23 2
13 Zane Kirchner Vodacom Blue Bulls 26 10
12 Jean de Villiers/*Patrick Lambie Vodacom WP/The Sharks 29/20 63/0
11 Bryan Habana Vodacom Western Province 27 66
10 Morne Steyn Vodacom Blue Bulls 26 21
9 Ruan Pienaar Ulster, N Ireland 26 43
8 Pierre Spies Vodacom Blue Bulls 25 37
7 Juan Smith Vodacom Cheetahs 29 65
6 *Deon Stegmann Vodacom Blue Bulls 24 0
5 Victor Matfield (captain) Vodacom Blue Bulls 33 101
4 Bakkies Botha Vodacom Blue Bulls 31 68
3 Jannie du Plessis The Sharks 28 20
2 Bismarck du Plessis The Sharks 26 32
1 Tendai Mtawarira The Sharks 25 22
16 Chiliboy Ralepelle Vodacom Blue Bulls 24 17
17 CJ van der Linde Vodacom Cheetahs 30 65
18 Flip van der Merwe Vodacom Blue Bulls 25 6
19 *Willem Alberts/*Keegan Daniel The Sharks/The Sharks 26/25 0/0
20 Francois Hougaard Vodacom Blue Bulls 22 5
21 Adi Jacobs The Sharks 30 30
22 *Patrick Lambie/*Lwazi Mvovo The Sharks/The Sharks 20/24 0/0
* Denotes uncapped