World Cup-winning No.8 Duane Vermeulen and star halfback Faf de Klerk will return from injury to face Australia in The Rugby Championship on Sunday but superstar winger Cheslin Kolbe misses out.
Kolbe South Africa’s biggest attacking weapon, suffered a leg injury in training last Friday and has failed to recover in time.
Vermeulen, 35, is one of the world’s best loose forwards, playing a leading role in helping South Africa win the 2019 World Cup, but an ankle injury kept him from competing against the Lions in July and August.
De Klerk damaged his hip in the second Test against the Lions.
“We have been following the progress of the injured players on a daily basis, so we knew that we would be in a position to select most of them for this match,” said coach Jacques Nienaber.
“Duane has played an active role off the field in our team meetings and with the analysis of the opposition, and he has also provided guidance at training. He returned to full training when we arrived in Australia, so he has been in the thick of things for a while now.
“Duane, Faf and Herschel are Rugby World Cup winners, and so is Eben, who is back after we rotated him to manage his workload, while Marco has made a strong impact on the field this season as well, so we are pleased to have them back in the fold.
“Australia pose a strong threat with their running rugby and they like to keep the ball in play. They will also be playing in front of a charged-up home crowd, so it will be good to have these experienced players back as they know what it takes to perform in big matches.
“Unfortunately, we lost Cheslin to injury, but we are fortunate to have Sbu who steps in. He’s been working hard at training and he is eager to get back on the field.”
He said Kolbe was the only squad member not available for selection.
On Tuesday, South Africa’s assistant coach said the tourists hope to exploit the Wallabies’ “ball in hand” approach in Sunday’s match.
The sides’ Gold Coast meeting will be their first since the Springboks won the 2019 World Cup, the visitors using their quarantine period to recover after series wins against Argentina and the British and Irish Lions.
The Wallabies are licking wounds after three comprehensive losses to the All Blacks, when their daring offence so often resulted in points against from turnovers.
Springboks assistant coach Deon Davids has been watching and isn’t surprised by Dave Rennie’s offensive ambitions, even if they haven’t quite come off yet.
“That is part of his approach; to have this attacking philosophy and he likes his teams to play with ball in hand,” he said.
“Their attack’s really improved but they would look back in terms of execution and decision making, it wasn’t … as good as they would have wanted.
“They will look at it and try to correct it.
“(It will be) high intensity, (we’ll need to) defend multiple phases against a team that likes to keep ball in hand.
“But be patient and, in terms of execution, if you get an opportunity, use it.”
Springbok team to face Australia in Gold Coast
15-1: Willie le Roux, Sbu Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handré Pollard, Faf de Klerk, Duane Vermeulen, Franco Mostert, Siya Kolisi, Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Ox Nché, Vincent Koch, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Jasper Wiese, Herschel Jantjies, Damian Willemse.