CHAMPIONSHIP

Vermeulen set to start for Springboks against Australia

Duane Vermeulen will make his first appearance for the Springboks since the 2019 Rugby World Cup final when South Africa resume their Castle Lager Rugby Championship campaign on Sunday against Australia at the CBUS Super Stadium in Gold Coast.

The experienced No 8 – who joined the Springbok squad at the start of the Castle Lager Lions Series in August but has yet to play a match – has recovered fully from the ankle surgery he had earlier this year and headlines the return of a handful of injured players for the important encounter.

Scrumhalves Faf de Klerk (leg strain) and Herschel Jantjies (hip pointer), and flank Marco van Staden (ankle) are also back from injury as Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber made 13 changes to his matchday squad for the match – seven in the starting lineup and six on the replacements bench.

Five of the changes to the starting team that defeated Argentina 29-10 in the second round of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship in Nelson Mandela Bay were amongst the forwards. Vermeulen takes over from Jasper Wiese at the back of the scrum, and Eben Etzebeth comes in for Marvin Orie at lock, while a new front row of Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe (both props) and Bongi Mbonambi (hooker) will be in action.

The two changes in the backline are on the right wing, where Sbu Nkosi replaces Cheslin Kolbe who took a knock to the leg at training, and scrumhalf, where De Klerk returns for the first time since the second Test against the British & Irish Lions in place of Cobus Reinach.

Malcolm Marx (hooker), Ox Nché, Vincent Koch (both props), Van Staden, Wiese and Jantjies, meanwhile, will join Damian Willemse (utility back) and Kwagga Smith (loose forward) on a powerful replacements bench, which features a six-two split of forwards.

Springboks – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Marco van Staden, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Jasper Wiese, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse.

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