Bulls flyhalf Handre Pollard has leap-frogged Marnitz Boshoff and will start in the number 10 jersey for the Springboks, who take on Scotland in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
With Morne Steyn ruled out due to club commitments, and Johan Goosen injured again, most would have predicted a start for Boshoff, who has been with the squad for three weeks and furthermore in great form over the course of Super Rugby. Coach Heyneke Meyer clearly sees things differently, however.
The team features changes aplenty in other areas. Lwazi Mvovo starts at left wing for Bryan Habana in the only other change to the starting backline, while Boshoff earns a bench spot alongside Francois Hougaard and Zane Kirchner. The latter is another hard-to-justify selection given the claim of in-form Sharks man S’bura Sithole, whose omission from the matchday 23 is nothing short of a disgrace.
Coenie Oosthuizen start at loosehead prop for injured Beast Mtawarira, while Lood de Jager will enjoy a first start at this level as he replaces Flip van der Merwe. Marcell Coetzee and Schalk Burger replace flankers Francois Louw (club commitments) and Willem Alberts (out with concussion) respectively.
New caps on the forward replacement bench include Bulls prop Marcell van der Merwe, Sharks lock Stephan Lewies and Free State utility forward Teboho Mahoje. Trevor Nyakanke and Adriaan Strauss – both previously capped – also come into the squad this week.
South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Duane Vermeuelen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Victor Matfield (capt), 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Coenie Oosthuizen
16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Stephan Lewies, 20 Teboho Mahoje, 21 Francois Hougaard , 22 Marnitz Boshoff, 23 Zane Kirchner.