Experienced scrumhalf Francois Hougaard will make his 44th Test appearance for the Springboks when South Africa face Argentina in the high altitude of Salta on Saturday evening (SA time).
Hougaard comes into the Springbok starting fifteen in place of the injured Ross Cronje, who sustained an ankle injury in the Springboks’ 37-15 triumph over the Pumas last weekend in Port Elizabeth.
Springbok coach, Allister Coetzee, said that while the loss of Cronje is a big blow to the team, the Boks are in the fortunate position to call on the services of the very experienced Hougaard.
With Hougaard elevated to the starting team, Rudy Paige moves back into the match day squad as the replacement scrumhalf.
“Francois has played a lot of Test match rugby, his work ethic is second to none and he has been working hard up to now since joining the squad,” said Coetzee.
“Rudy made a good impact in the third Test against France and I expect the same from him this weekend.”
According to the Springbok coach, the entire match 23 played well in Port Elizabeth, making it easy to announce just the one forced change in a week that the team has a short turnaround due to the travel to South America. The consistent team selection also allows the Springboks to continue with their processes and keep building on their continuity.
Coetzee also pointed to the healthy competition for places in the team: “The players outside of the match 23 squad are all knocking on the door and that is a great position to be in.”
Coetzee said the Springboks have to deliver an even better performance in Salta, where a fierce Puma challenge is expected.
“This is going to be a different challenge but I have no doubt the players will benefit and grow from every tough experience,” said the Springbok coach.
“Our approach and preparation will be just the same as when we prepared for all our home Tests, and to control whatever we can control.
“We must again show patience, hunger and the desire to execute our game plan.”
The two teams have met twice in Salta before – in 2014, Jean de Villiers’ Springboks clinched a narrow 33-31 win over the Pumas at the high altitude venue, and in 2016 the Pumas recorded a famous 26-24 win over the South Africans.
The Springbok side to face Argentina in Salta:
15. Andries Coetzee (Emirates Lions), 4 caps, 0 points
14. Raymond Rhule (Toyota Cheetahs), 4 caps, 5 points (1 try)
13. Jesse Kriel (Vodacom Bulls), 20 caps, 25 points (5 tries)
12. Jan Serfontein (Vodacom Bulls), 30 caps, 20 points (4 tries)
11. Courtnall Skosan (Emirates Lions), 4 caps, points (1 try)
10. Elton Jantjies (Emirates Lions), 15 caps, 147 points (1 try, 26 conv, 30 pen)
9. Francois Hougaard (Worcester Warriors, England) 43 caps, 25 points (5 tries)
8. Uzair Cassiem (Toyota Cheetahs) 2 caps, 5 points (1 try)
7. Jaco Kriel (Emirates Lions), 9 caps, 0 points
6. Siya Kolisi (DHL Stormers), 20 caps, 5 points (1 try)
5. Franco Mostert (Emirates Lions), 11 caps, 0 points
4. Eben Etzebeth (captain, DHL Stormers), 58 caps, 15 points (3 tries)
3. Coenie Oosthuizen (Cell C Sharks), 27 caps, 20 points (4 tries)
2. Malcolm Marx (Emirates Lions), 6 caps, 5 points (1 try)
1. Tendai Mtawarira (Cell C Sharks), 91 caps, 10 points (2 tries)
16. Bongi Mbonambi (DHL Stormers), 9 caps, 0 points
17. Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers), 14 caps, 0 points
18. Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls), 29 caps, 5 points (1 try)
19. Pieter-Steph du Toit (DHL Stormers), 24 caps, 15 points (3 tries)
20. Jean-Luc du Preez (Cell C Sharks), 5 caps, 0 points
21. Rudy Paige (Vodacom Bulls) 8 caps, 5 points (1 try)
22. Curwin Bosch (Cell C Sharks), 1 cap, 0 points
23. Damian de Allende (DHL Stormers), 23 caps, 15 points (3 tries)