Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has made six changes to his team to play Wales at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday with Jan Serfontein replacing Frans Steyn.
Japan bound Frans Steyn withdrew from the Springbok squad for the June Internationals
yesterday so that he can consider his future in South African rugby.
The match will be a special occassion for Gurthro Steenkamp who will make his
50th Test appearance for South Africa.
Steenkamp has been included in the starting line-up for the first Welsh Test
in one of six changes to the match-day squad from the team which comprehensively
beat the World XV last weekend in Cape Town, four of which are positional shifts.
Cornal Hendricks, who shone for the Springboks last weekend at Newlands, will
make his Test debut on Saturday, while his provincial team mate from the Free
State Cheetahs, the uncapped Lood de Jager, has been selected on the bench.
The two changes in the backline are at inside centre, where Jan Serfontein
will earn his first Test start for South Africa, and scrumhalf, where Fourie
du Preez will start with Ruan Pienaar on the bench alongside Tendai Mtawarira,
who has swapped places with Steenkamp.
The 32-year-old Steenkamp, who made his international debut on 27 November
2004 against Scotland in Edinburgh, will become the 29th Springbok to reach
50 Test caps. He will also become the sixth prop to achieve this feat behind
Os du Randt, CJ van der Linde, Ollie le Roux, Jannie du Plessis and Mtawarira.
“This is a wonderful achievement for Gurthro and I’m very proud
of him,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
“He has been playing Test rugby for a decade and is vastly experienced
at all levels of the game. Gurthro always gives everything he has for the Springbok
jersey and it’s always good to see commitment and hard work pay off.”
Meyer was also very happy for Hendricks and De Jager, who have been two of
the Cheetahs’ stars this season.
“To make one’s Test debut is a proud moment in any player’s
career. Cornal and Lood fully deserve to be in the squad this weekend and I
know they will do well,” said Meyer.
“Cornal performed exceptionally well in his first start for South Africa
against the World XV last weekend and really made the most of his opportunity.
“Lood has everything expected from a modern lock – not only is
he big and powerful, but he likes the physical stuff and is very skilful as
“I also planned on giving Jan an opportunity this month. He was first
selected when he was 20 last year and it’s always been our plan to groom
him for a long Springbok career. He’s been playing well for the Vodacom
Bulls lately and his first start for the Springboks is well-deserved after making
nine appearances from the bench in 2013.
“Jan and JP Pietersen will face a very experienced midfield combination
on Saturday, but they have played against the best in Vodacom Super Rugby and
know what is expected of them.”
Meyer said he is expecting a stern challenge from Wales on Saturday.
“They started their tour well with a good win in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday
evening and they are always fired up and ready,” said the Springbok coach.
“Wales have an experienced coaching team and they were the Six Nations
champions in 2012 and 2013, as well as the back-bone of the British & Irish
Lions team which beat Australia last year, so this will be a massive challenge
in our first Test of the season.
“Although we got our season off to a good start against the World XV
last weekend, there were a few areas of the game we were not satisfied with
and which we worked hard on this week. We will have to be at our best on Saturday
and we want to make our supporters proud.”
Victor Matfield, who will capta