Juan’s perfect return


Juan Smith will complete a remarkable return to international rugby when he runs out for the Springboks against Argentina in Salta on Saturday, in the second Test of the Castle Lager Incoming Series (kick-off 21h40 SA time).


Smith’s inclusion at flank is one of three changes to the starting XV, with a further four changes on the bench.

Gurthrö Steenkamp (prop) and Eben Etzebeth (lock) will start in the tight five, with Tendai Mtawarira and Bakkies Botha moving to the bench. Marcell Coetzee will join them amongst the replacements after coming in as a late substitute for the injured Willem Alberts last weekend.

The final change to the team, which beat Argentina by 13-6 last weekend in Pretoria, is the inclusion of Lwazi Mvovo on the bench.

“We have a couple of options at blindside flank, but we’ve decided that this will be a great opportunity to give Juan a chance,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

“If it wasn’t for an injury which kept him out in June, he would’ve played a part in the Castle Lager Incoming Series. He was one of Toulon’s best players after more than two years out of the game and helped them to win two major competitions.

“Apart from experience and leadership, Juan is a superb ball-carrier and also brilliant at the back of the lineouts, where we missed Willem Alberts last week. Our lineouts are an important attacking platform and we need to improve this week – I’m sure Juan will add another dimension.”

Meyer added: “It’s also wonderful to have Eben back to full fitness and he’ll slot in at lock without any problems.

“’Beast’ recently returned from an injury which kept him out for some time and it was decided to rotate him and Gurthrö mainly because of the short turn-around after our travel to Argentina.”

Saturday’s Test will be the Springboks’ first visit to Salta, in the north west of Argentina.

“We’re looking forward to the challenge. Although we were happy with the result in Pretoria, we were not happy with the performance and this is an opportunity to show improvement against a tough opponent away from home,” said Meyer.


The Springbok team to face Argentina in Salta is:


Position Name Test Caps Test points
15 Willie le Roux 16 35
14 Cornal Hendricks 4 10
13 Damian de Allende 1 0
12 Jean de Villiers (captain) 97 125
11 Bryan Habana 98 275
10 Handré Pollard 2 18
9 Ruan Pienaar 77 135
8 Duane Vermeulen 20 10
7 Juan Smith 69 60
6 Francois Louw 31 25
5 Lood de Jager 4 10
4 Eben Etzebeth 24 0
3 Jannie du Plessis 55 5
2 Bismarck du Plessis (vice-captain) 61 45
1 Gurthrö Steenkamp 51 30
16 Adriaan Strauss 35 25
17 Tendai Mtawarira 56 10
18 Frans Malherbe 3 0
19 Bakkies Botha 80 35
20 Marcell Coetzee 17 10
21 Francois Hougaard 28 20
22 Morné Steyn 57 663
23 Lwazi Mvovo 9 15


Stats and facts:


  • The Springbok starting team boasts a total of 610 Test caps (295 in the backline and 315 in the forwards), while there a further 285 caps worth of experience on the bench.
  • South Africa and Argentina have played each other 18 timessince 1993, with the Springboks winning 17 Tests and one was drawn. The Springboks have scored 695 points and 85 tries and conceded 330 points and 30 tries for an average score of 39-18.
  • South Africa and Argentina last met on 16 August 2014 at Loftus Versfeld in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship. The Boks beat Argentina 13-6 in dreadful conditions.
  • Jean de Villiers will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok centre, with 82 Tests in this position. He will also extend his own SA record of 45 Rugby Championship games and will captain the Springboks for a 26th time.
  •  Bryan Habana will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok wing, with 97 Tests in this position. He will also extend his record of eight career appearances against Argentina and if he scores a try, will extend his record of 55 Test tries for South Africa as well as his record of 17 tries in his Castle Lager Rugby Championship career.
  • If he goes on and plays flyhalf, Morné Steyn will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok flyhalf, with 55 Tests in this position. If he scores a try, he will also extend his record of eight Test tries as a flyhalf for South Africa.
  •  If he scores a try Bismarck du Plessis will extend his own record of nine Test tries for South Africa. Bismarck and his brother Jannie will extend their record of playing together in 35 Tests for the Springboks.
  •  Juan Smith last played a Test for South Africa on 27 November, 2010 against England at Twickenham. If he scores a try, Smith will become sole record holder of most tries for South Africa as a flank (11), a record he currently shares with Schalk Burger.
  •  Ruan Pienaar will be playing in his 50th Test for South Africa at scrumhalf. He also played 15 Tests at flyhalf, ten at fullback and three on the wing.
  • The referee is Steve Walsh of Australia (formerly from New Zealand). This will be his 17th Test involving South Africa. From the previous 16 games the Springboks have won 12, drawn three and lost once. Walsh will also equal the record of Alain Rolland of Ireland who also officiated in 17 Tests involving South Africa.
  • This will be the Springboks’ first Test at the Estadio Padre Ernest Martearena in Salta.
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Better known as Bunny, Took over after Pissant went over to the "Dark Side"


  1. I trust Steve Walsh will be wide awake to the spoiling tactics of the Argies this time round, though I am not too sure.

    Hopefully he will also check the Argie scrum for scrumming at an angle and for that early hit they got away with last Saturday.

    Really great to see Juan back, I have always been a fan of the man.

  2. Such great selections by HM. He may have been born with the “Original Sin” of ZeeBulls but he keeps showing with his selections just how much of a redeemer he has become.

    Handy & De Allende & Corny is a “Bring it” to the Argies & other assorted unbelievers.

    Juan “The Phoenix” Smith is a great story of resilience. Have not seen him play in France but in SA what a motor on that guy.
    Hope Mvovo gets on for “You Know Who” when SA is ub by <20.