South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer has made one change to his starting line-up to face New Zealand in their Rugby Championship clash in Johannesburg on Saturday but he may yet be forced into making another.
Bismark du Plessis, controversially sent off in New Zealand last year, takes over at hooker from Adriaan Strauss in what is otherwise an unchanged side from the one that defeated Australia 28-10 in Cape Town at the weekend.
However, there remains a question-mark over the fitness of number eight Duane Vermeulen, who will be given as much time as possible to recover from a rib cartilage injury sustained against the Wallabies.
Should he fail a late fitness test, he will be replaced from the bench by veteran Schalk Burger, whose position among the replacements will go to Warren Whiteley.
“It’s been good to build some form of continuity and we’ll give Duane as much time as possible before making a final call,” Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said in a statement yesterday. “He’s been one of our best players in the last couple of weeks and is responding well to medical treatment. Schalk’s impact last weekend was massive, but so was the rest of the bench and we’ll be looking for more of the same on Saturday.
“At hooker, we’ve decided to rotate Bismarck with Adriaan Strauss, both of whom must rate amongst the best hookers in the world at the moment.”
Meyer said that the Springboks would need to be at their best, defend strongly and execute their attacking plays as well as possible if they were going to be victorious against a New Zealand team beaten just once since lifting the 2011 World Cup.
“We’re well aware of the massive task that awaits us,” Meyer said. “There are areas of the game we know we have to improve on against New Zealand. We’d like to go out there and enjoy the occasion and carry on where we left off against Australia.”
The match will be Springbok captain Jean de Villiers’s 50th appearance in the Rugby Championship, the most by a South African.
Former captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe has left Argentina’s Rugby Championship squad making way for Rodrigo Baez as one of five changes for Saturday’s closing Test against Australia.
Fernandez Lobbe misses the match in Mendoza having left for France where he plays his club rugby for Toulon to meet his newly-born second son.
With Juan Manuel Leguizamon still injured, the Pumas will field a new-look backrow as they seek their first win at the close of their third season in the Southern Hemisphere championship.
Another change coach Daniel Hourcade announced in the forwards has tighthead prop Ramiro Herrera dropping to the bench to be replaced by Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
There are three changes in the backs from the side beaten 34-13 by champions New Zealand last Saturday with Martin Landajo coming back at scrumhalf and Tomas Cubelli returning to the bench.
Horacio Agulla comes in at outside centre with Marcelo Bosch dropping to the bench and Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino replaces Manuel Montero on the left wing.
Argentina lost 32-25 to Australia at Gold Cost on September 13th, earning the third of their three bonus points.