South Africa have named a new front row for their Rugby Championship showdown with Argentina in Salta on Saturday as they seek a first title in the competition since 2009.
Hooker Bongi Mbonambi, and props Trevor Nyakane and Tendai Mtawarira will pack down at the front of the scrum in place of Malcolm Marx, and Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe respectively.
The latter trio have all been named on the bench and are the only changes to the starting line-up by coach Rassie Erasmus from the 16-16 draw against New Zealand in Wellington last time out.
Mtawarira will make his 53rd appearance in the Rugby Championship to equal the record of former winger Bryan Habana for South Africa. It will be his 110th test overall.
“This Test is a good opportunity for Bongi and Trevor to start next to ‘Beast’ (Mtawarira), who has a wealth of experience,” Erasmus told the SA Rugby website.
“We all know about the massively difficult forward threat of Argentina, however, they are a clever side with skill and pace out wide so we will have to be alert on defence right until the final whistle.”
Duane Vermeulen will captain the team from the number eight position, with former Sevens player Kwagga Smith retaining his place on the flank.
Handre Pollard will marshal the backline at flyhalf, while scrumhalf Faf de Klerk has recovered from a suspected concussion he picked up in Wellington.
Experienced fullback Willie le Roux, and wingers Cheslin Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi, make up the back three.
South Africa lead the Rugby Championship table by a point from New Zealand and will lift the title with a bonus-point victory in Salta, providing a significant boost going into the World Cup in Japan starting next month.
However, if New Zealand don’t get full points against Australia in Perth, then a victory of any sort will see the Boks lift the trophy in a competition shortened to three rounds because of the World Cup.
The Boks face Argentina again in Pretoria on Aug. 17 in a one-off test before heading out to Japan.
Team: 15-Willie le Roux, 14-Cheslin Kolbe, 13-Lukhanyo Am, 12-Damian de Allende, 11-Makazole Mapimpi, 10-Handre Pollard, 9-Faf de Klerk, 8-Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7-Pieter Steph du Toit, 6-Kwagga Smith, 5-Franco Mostert, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Trevor Nyakane, 2-Bongi Mbonambi, 1-Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16-Malcolm Marx, 17-Steven Kitshoff, 18-Frans Malherbe, 19-RG Snyman, 20-Francois Louw, 21-Herschel Jantjies, 22-Frans Steyn, 23-Jesse Kriel.
(Reporting by Nick Said, editing Ed Osmond)