South Africa v Argentina, Soweto
Du Preez benched for Rugby Championship opener
ESPN Staff
August 14, 2013
Jean de Villiers will captain South Africa against Argentina © Getty Images

South Africa have made two changes ahead of their Rugby Championship opener against Argentina in Soweto on Saturday.

The Boks last played against Samoa back in June and coach Heyneke Meyer has made two changes to that starting line-up with Duane Vermeulen starting at No.8 while Juandre Kruger gets the nod in the second-row. Vermeulen comes in for the injured Pierre Spies while Flip van der Merwe drops to the bench to make way for Kruger.

And Van der Merwe is joined on the bench by the hugely experienced duo of Gurthro Steenkamp and scrum-half Fourie du Preez. The No.9 last played for the Springboks during the 2011 World Cup while Steenkamp turned out against England in 2012.

"Continuity has been key for us this year and that is why we've opted not to make too many changes to the team for Saturday's Test against Argentina," said Springbok coach Meyer. "It's great to have Duane back at No 8, while Juandré has been doing great work in the line-outs all season long. To have someone of the calibre of Flip on the bench, next to the experience Fourie and Gurthrö bring to the team, is a great situation to be in."

The game forms part of the Nelson Mandela Sport & Culture Day activities and Meyer is hoping the Test lives up to expectation. Meyer said: "It's a marvellous occasion and special to be part of a unique day where we can all celebrate the contributions former president Mandela made to South Africa.

"I think it was clear last year that the Argentinians are not in the Rugby Championship to make up the numbers, which means we will have to be focused on doing the little things right. They've been together for a few weeks now and will be a tough opponent on Saturday.

"We've now done the hard work on the training pitch and I can see the players are keen to get back onto the field for a Test. Now we need to put into practice what we've been working on and continue where we left off against Samoa, looking for try-scoring opportunities in the process."

South Africa squad:

Willie le Roux, Bjorn Basson, JJ Engelbrecht, Jean de Villiers (captain), Bryan Habana, Morne Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Tendai Mtawarira, Adriaan Strauss, Jannie du Plessis, Eben Etzebeth, Juandre Kruger, Francois Louw, Willem Alberts, Duane Vermeulen

Replacements: Bismarck du Plessis, Gurthro Steenkamp, Coenie Oosthuizen, Flip van der Merwe, Siya Kolisi, Fourie du Preez, Pat Lambie, Jan Serfontein

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