Rugby Championship
De Allende handed Springboks debut
ESPN Staff
August 13, 2014
Damian de Allende offloads, Sharks v Stormers, Super Rugby, Kings Park, Durban, South Africa, May 31, 2014
Damian de Allende will feature alongside returning Springboks captain Jean de Villiers © Getty Images

Damian de Allende will make his South Africa debut in the Rugby Championship clash against Argentina in Pretoria on Saturday.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has opted to give De Allende his first cap when the nations clash at Loftus Versfeld and the centre will play alongside returning captain Jean de Villiers.

"Jean and Damian have played together before, albeit not this way around. But Damian has experience of playing outside centre from his junior days and he got his break at inside centre when he had to step up in Jean's place," Meyer said.

De Villiers missed the June Tests through injury, along with Frans Malherbe and Eben Etzebeth. The latter duo also return to the mix and have been named on the bench.

South Africa under-20s captain Handré Pollard will earn his second cap alongside De Villiers and Ruan Pienaar. Lood de Jager replaces the experience of injured Victor Matfield at lock, while Bakkies Botha lines up alongside him. Willem Alberts and Tendai Mtawarira both return having missed the Scotland Test through injury.

Meyer added: "It's great to welcome back Jean, Willem, 'Beast', Eben and Frans, but I'm also very excited to see what Damian can do after he missed out on making his debut in June because of an injury.

"Handré also deserved another opportunity and it will be good to see how he combines with Jean and Damian.

"Lood has improved a lot over the last couple of months and although it's a big ask for him to fill the void left by Victor, I know he has the goods to deliver. He will be well-supported by Duane Vermeulen in the line-outs though."

Jan Serfontein impressed in June but will be used as cover from the bench. Elsewhere, Pat Lambie has been released to play for the Sharks in their Currie Cup clash against the Pumas on Friday.

"Jan was one of our best players in June, but Jean is our captain and was always going to return once he was fit again," said Meyer.

"Pat missed four months of Super Rugby and although he made his return towards the end of the competition, it was felt that he could do with game time this weekend before we leave for Argentina and we'd like to thank the Sharks for agreeing to give him a run."

South Africa: 15. Willie le Roux, 14. Cornal Hendricks, 13. Damian de Allende, 12. Jean de Villiers (c), 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Handré Pollard, 9. Ruan Pienaar, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Francois Louw, 5. Lood de Jager, 4. Bakkies Botha, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Tenda Mtawarira

Replacements: 16. Adriaan Strauss, 17. Trevor Nyakane, 18. Frans Malherbe, 19. Eben Etzebeth, 20. Marcell Coetzee, 21. Francois Hougaard, 22. Morné Steyn, 23. Jan Serfontein

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