Rugby Championship
Victor Matfield returns to Springboks squad
ESPN Staff
August 28, 2014
South Africa celebrated their escape against Argentina in Salta © Getty Images

Victor Matfield has recovered from a knee injury to be named in the Springboks' 30-man squad to face Australia and New Zealand in the next round of Rugby Championship matches.

"Victor is over his injury and has been declared fit to travel with us for the next two Tests, while were awaiting a final verdict on Willem," Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer said. "It will be good to have them back. Willem has been part of the squad for the last number of seasons and Victor showed he can still add a lot of value when he returned to the Bok fold earlier this year."

Loose forwards Juan Smith and Warren Whiteley dropped out of the squad to accommodate the return of the pair, but the latter was recalled after Willem Alberts failed a fitness test. Prop Marcel van der Merwe has been called up for the injured Frans Malherbe.

South Africa play Australia in Perth on September 6 and defending Rugby Championship winners New Zealand in Wellington a week later, and Jean de Villiers says the undefeated Springboks "need to up our game and we need to improve" if they are to defeat their rivals.

The Springboks were scrappy and unconvincing in the victories against Argentina, defeating the Pumas in Salta on Saturday only with a penalty from Morne Steyn four minutes from full-time, and de Villiers told Supersport on arriving back in Johannesburg on Monday that "we're not happy with our performance but definitely happy with the two wins".

"I think we all know that this is a very tough competition and if you keep on winning - if you are not firing on all cylinders, that is a positive result," the Springboks captain said. "We'll take the two wins but still a lot of hard work that needs to be done before the next game."

De Villiers said he had taken note of the impressive All Blacks performance against Australia on Saturday, "but we are only seeing them in three weeks' time".

"The focus for us right now is Australia and putting up a good performance against them; after that we'll take on the next one. At the end of the day we're happy that we won two out of two and we're top of the log at the moment in the Rugby Championship, but we are very realistic in the way we played and what lies ahead for us."

The Springboks lead the championship with eight points after two rounds; the All Blacks are second on seven points while the Pumas and Wallabies each have two points.

Springboks squad to play in Australia and New Zealand

Forwards: Bakkies Botha, Schalk Brits, Marcell Coetzee, Lodewyk de Jager, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Eben Etzebeth, Francois Louw, Victor Matfield, Teboho Mohoje, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Gurthro Steenkamp, Adriaan Strauss, Marcel van der Merwe, Duane Vermeulen, Warren Whiteley.

Backs: Damian de Allende, Jean de Villiers (capt), Bryan Habana, Cornal Hendricks, Francois Hougaard, Patrick Lambie, Willie le Roux, Lwazi Mvovo, Ruan Pienaar, Handre Pollard, Cobus Reinach, Jan Serfontein, Morne Steyn.

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