1. Rugby: Jesse Kriel debuts, Schalk Burger at number eight for Springboks

Rugby: Jesse Kriel debuts, Schalk Burger at number eight for Springboks

Jesse Kriel will make his test debut at centre and Schalk Burger will start at number eight when South Africa take on Australia in their Rugby Championship opener in Brisbane on Saturday.

By: | Published: July 15, 2015 9:06 AM

Jesse Kriel will make his test debut at centre and Schalk Burger will start at number eight when South Africa take on Australia in their Rugby Championship opener in Brisbane on Saturday.

With regular Springboks skipper Jean de Villiers and Frans Steyn recuperating from injury, coach Heyneke Meyer has turned to Bulls fullback Kriel to fill the gap at outside centre, as he did for the 46-10 victory over a World XV last weekend.

Burger steps in at the back of the scrum to replace Duane Vermeulen, who is a doubt for the World Cup because of neck surgery, with Warren Whiteley failing even to secure a spot among the replacements.

Meyer, who has a long injury list, said he would be rotating his squad throughout the championship, which has been truncated to allow the teams to prepare for the World Cup in England later this year.

“We’re expecting a massive contest for the ball on the ground on Saturday and with Schalk there next to Francois Louw and Marcell Coetzee, as well as Bismarck du Plessis, we’ve got a lot of players who are very good at the breakdowns,” he said in a news release.

“Warren Whiteley played very well last weekend, but he knows exactly where he stands and will play again for the Boks this season. For this match though, we decided to go with this specific loose trio.

“I’ve said last week that we will make changes, but it’s also important to keep some form of momentum.

“Saturday’s match is going to be massive in the context of our season and we have to ensure we tick the right boxes.”

Victor Matfield will captain the side from the second row alongside Eben Etzebeth with Lood de Jager in line to win his 10th cap from the bench.

Meyer went with the experienced front row of the du Plessis brothers, Bismark and Jannie, and Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira but promising young prop Frans Malherbe is among the replacements and should get his chance in the second half.

“If we’re not at our best, it will be a long day at the office,” Meyer added.

“But we played some brilliant rugby last weekend and the challenge this weekend is to build on that and improve in the areas we lacked.

“Our basics have to be spot on and it will also be a great test for our defensive systems against a Wallaby side that can rip any team to shreds with the ball in hand.”

Team: 15-Willie le Roux, 14-JP Pietersen, 13-Jesse Kriel, 12-Damian de Allende, 11-Bryan Habana, 10-Handre Pollard, 9-Ruan Pienaar, 8-Schalk Burger, 7-Marcell Coetzee, 6-Francois Louw, 5-Victor Matfield (captain), 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Jannie du Plessis, 2-Bismarck du Plessis, 1-Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16-Adriaan Strauss, 17-Heinke van der Merwe, 18-Frans Malherbe, 19-Lood de Jager, 20-Oupa Mohoje, 21-Cobus Reinach, 22-Pat Lambie, 23-Lwazi Mvovo

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