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South Africa name three uncapped forwards

06 June 2012

  • Locks Kruger and Etzebeth and flanker Coetzee debut against England
  • Meyer names a side boasting 458 Test caps for Durban opener
Stormers lock Eben Etzebeth, who will make his Springboks debut against England in Durban on Saturday

Photo: Getty Images

South Africa have named three uncapped forwards in their team to face England in Saturday's first Test.

Locks Juandre Kruger and Eben Etzebeth were both included in new coach Heyneke Meyer's side for the clash at Durban's Kings Park along with flanker Marcell Coetzee.

A fourth newcomer, prop Coenie Oosthuizen, could make his first appearance off the bench.The players add a new dimension to an otherwise experienced side following a series of retirements and injuries.

The starting 15 still boasts a combined total of 458 Test caps with nine of the players that featured in last year's World Cup quarter-final against Australia retained.

Meyer said: "Eben, Juandre, Marcell and Coenie have all put their hands up this season and I know they can succeed at Test level.

"It is quite a new thing in South African rugby to have two uncapped locks starting. It is a huge step up but I am confident in them.

"I am very happy for them and their families and know they will make South Africa proud. Although the team is quite young, we still have some experience across the starting 15.

"The balance in the team is right in the way we want to play against England and we're looking forward to the first Test."

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer at a Springboks training session

Photo: Getty Images

The other main issue in the team was the decision to hand the vice-captaincy to hooker Bismarck du Plessis.

Du Plessis is one of the world's best number twos but has still faced a battle for that position and the vice-captain's role from Adriaan Strauss, who will be on the bench. Strauss will take over as vice-captain if and when he replaces Du Plessis during the game.

Meyer announced earlier in the week that the side would be captained by centre Jean de Villiers throughout the three-Test series.

The former Leicester Tigers coach said: "We're fortunate to have a strong leadership core in Jean, Bismarck and – if he gets replaced – Adriaan."

Zane Kirchner was chosen at full back in a back line that also features JP Pietersen, De Villiers, Frans Steyn and Bryan Habana.

Stuart Lancaster announces his team at 09.15am (BST) tomorrow morning and you can watch his first interview then, exclusive to RFU.com.

South Africa team to face England

Z Kirchener; JP Pietersen, J de Villiers (capt), F Steyn, B Habana; M Steyn, F Hougaard; T Mtawarira, B du Plessis, J du Plessis; E Etzebeth, J Kruger, M Coetzee, W Alberts, P Spies.

Replacements: A Strauss, C Oosthuizen, F van der Merwe, K Daniel, R Pienaar, P Lambie, W Olivier.