Springboks Pick Vermeulen for Rugby Test Debut Against Australia

South Africa made five changes for this weekend’s Rugby Championship match against Australia, including handing Duane Vermeulen his Test debut, as it seeks to avoid a record fifth straight loss against the Wallabies.

Francois Hougaard shifts from scrum-half to the left wing in place of Lwazi Mvovo, with Ruan Pienaar taking over at No. 9 in changes to the backline that started the 16-16 draw against Argentina on Aug. 25.

Vermeulen was named to make his debut at No. 8 against the Wallabies in Perth on Sept. 8, with Willem Alberts switching to flanker ahead of Jacques Potgieter. Juandre Kruger takes over from the dropped Andries Bekker in the second row, while openside flanker Francois Louw, who joined up with the squad two days ago from English club Bath, was named on the bench.

“I’ve always admired the way Duane plays rugby and he’s fitted in very well the past week,” Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer said on the team’s website. “He would’ve been a Springbok years ago if it had not been for injuries and it’s great to finally see him selected.”

Australia, which won its first southern hemisphere title in a decade last year, is bottom of the four-team standings with no points heading into the third of six rounds. The Wallabies yesterday picked winger Dom Shipperley to make his Test debut, while Kurtley Beale was recalled as the starting full-back.

SOUTH AFRICA: Zane Kirchner, Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers (captain), Frans Steyn, Francois Hougaard, Morne Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Juandre Kruger, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Tendai Mtawarira.

Reserves: Tiaan Liebenberg, Pat Cilliers, Flip van der Merwe, Francois Louw, Johan Goosen, Pat Lambie, Lwazi Mvovo.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Baynes at dbaynes@bloomberg.net

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