Fresh-faced halfbacks for Springboks’ Los Pumas clash as battle-hardened Duane Vermeulen captains

Duane Vermeulen (L) will lead the Springboks against the Pumas. Photo: AFP

Duane Vermeulen (L) will lead the Springboks against the Pumas. Photo: AFP

Published Jul 25, 2023


Duane Vermeulen is back as captain for the Springboks' final Rugby Championship match against Argentina in Johannesburg on Saturday (kickoff 17:05).

Bok coach Jacques Nienaber made several changes to the side that lost heavily to New Zealand in Auckland with a host of players returning for the Ellis Park test that started in the opening win over the Wallabies.

Flyhalf Manie Libbok pairs with Grant Williams in an exciting halfback combination that should get the Springbok backline running against Los Pumas.

Vermeulen is back with flankers Pieter-Steph du Toit and Marco van Staden in a loose trio that dominated over the gain line in the first test. Van Staden, as one of the fringe Boks, will be raring to give another good showing to boost his World Cup credentials.

Bok supporters will also welcome the inclusion of Malcom Marx at hooker for the clash.

Nienaber said the team was determined to bounce back after the defeat and finish on a high note against their visitors.

"This is a quality team that will offer us the skills we need against Argentina," Nienaber said at his team announcement.

"It also contains a good balance of experience and youth, which is vital as we build toward the Rugby World Cup.

"There are only four more matches before we kick off our World Cup campaign so it’s a fine balancing act to give all the players a chance to stake a claim for places while selecting teams that we believe are best equipped for the opposition we’ll face, and we’re pleased with the way we’ve managed that process up to now.

"Obviously the result in New Zealand was bitterly disappointing, but we came into the season with a plan that will hopefully allow us to select the best possible squad for the World Cup and peak at the right time."

Scrumhalf Faf de Klerk, centre Lukhanyo Am and utility back Damian Willemse will be the three backs on the bench as Nienaber opted for a 5-3 split.

Springboks: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Manie Libbok, Grant Williams, Duane Vermeulen (captain), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Marco van Staden, Marvin Orie, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff.

Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Trevor Nyakane, Vincent Koch, Kwagga Smith, RG Snyman, Faf de Klerk, Lukhanyo Am, Damian Willemse.