Johan Goosen will start his first Test for the Springboks when he runs out at flyhalf against Australia in The Castle Rugby Championship at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.
The inclusion of the 20-year-old Toyota Free State Cheetahs flyhalf in the place of Morné Steyn is one of three changes to the starting XV from the Springbok team that played New Zealand in Dunedin.
Goosen is one of the six players in the match-22 that are 22 years old or younger – the others being Eben Etzebeth, Marcell Coetzee, Pat Lambie, Elton Jantjies and Jaco Taute.
The DHL Western Province lock pair of Etzebeth and Andries Bekker will start in the middle row. Etzebeth is back in the Springbok team after missing the previous Test because of a suspension.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer, in announcing his side to face Australia on Wednesday, also made four changes on the bench, where Coenie Oosthuizen, Flip van der Merwe, Jantjies and Taute have been included.
Jantjies and Taute have not played Test rugby for the Springboks, while Oosthuizen is back from injury. Van der Merwe and Bekker swap places in the match-22.
“I’ve maintained from the outset that I won’t rush Johan, but I feel he is now ready to start a Test for South Africa and I’m excited to see what he can bring,” said Meyer.
“Morné (Steyn), in the last four seasons, has played close to 140 matches at Test, Vodacom Super Rugby and Absa Currie Cup level and probably deserves a break, but this also provides a great opportunity for Johan, a player I rate very highly.
“Morné is a quality player and a fighter and I know he will bounce back.”
Commenting on the changes at lock, Meyer said: “It’s good to have Eben back with us. Flip played very well in Dunedin, but he’s been struggling with an injury this week and that is why we decided to start with him on the bench. I also thought Andries did very well when he came on against New Zealand and he is an excellent jumper in the lineout as well.”
Frans Steyn, who has been struggling with an ankle injury, has been bracketed with Taute in the midfield. Should Steyn not pass a fitness test by Friday, Taute will start and Juan de Jongh will come in on the bench.
The Springbok starting XV, with Frans Steyn at inside centre, boasts a combined total of 468 Test caps, with 314 of those belonging to the backs and 154 to the forwards.
Meyer said the Springboks were looking forward to Saturday’s Test and realised the importance of the match.
“It’s great to be back home in South Africa after three tough matches on the road. We were not happy with the results in Mendoza, Perth or Dunedin and we know how big the Test at Loftus Versfeld is on Saturday,” said Meyer.
“The Australians will be tough opponents on Saturday. We’ve now lost our last five Tests against them and need to turn this around.”
The Springbok team to face Australia in Pretoria is:
15 Zane Kirchner (Vodacom Blue Bulls) 19 caps
14 Bryan Habana (DHL Western Province) 81 caps
13 Jean de Villiers (captain, DHL Western Province) 79 caps
12 Frans Steyn (The Sharks) 53 caps / Jaco Taute (MTN Golden Lions) uncapped
11 Francois Hougaard (Vodacom Blue Bulls) 22 caps
10 Johan Goosen (Toyota FS Cheetahs) 2 caps
9 Ruan Pienaar (Ulster, N-Ireland) 58 caps
8 Duane Vermeulen (DHL Western Province) 2 caps
7 Willem Alberts (The Sharks) 15 caps
6 Francois Louw (Bath, England) 12 caps
5 Andries Bekker (DHL Western Province) 27 caps
4 Eben Etzebeth (DHL Western Province) 6 caps
3 Jannie du Plessis (The Sharks) 37 caps
2 Adriaan Strauss (vice-captain, Toyota FS Cheetahs) 16 caps
1 Tendai Mtawarira (The Sharks) 39 caps
16 Tiaan Liebenberg (DHL Western Province) 3 caps
17 Coenie Oosthuizen (Toyota FS Cheetahs) 1 cap
18 Flip van der Merwe (Vodacom Blue Bulls) 18 caps
19 Marcell Coetzee (The Sharks) 7 caps
20 Elton Jantjies (MTN Golden Lions) 0 caps
21 Jaco Taute (MTN Golden Lions) uncapped / Juan de Jongh (DHL Western Province) 10 caps
22 Pat Lambie (The Sharks) 15 caps
Stats and facts:
• Saturday’s Test will be the 76th between South Africa and Australia. Of these, the Springboks have won 41, lost 33 and drawn one.
• The two teams have played 37 Tests against each other in The Castle Rugby Championship. The Springboks won 17, lost 19 with one match drawn. Points for: 796; Points against: 865; Tries for: 73; Tries against: 86; Average score: 22-23.
• Since 1933 the Springboks have played only five test matches against Australia at Loftus Versfeld and were triumphant in all five. In 1997 South Africa scored their highest ever total number of points against Australia (61) at this venue.
• South Africa’s record against Australia at Loftus: Played 5; Won 5; Points for 161; Points against 87; Tries for 17; Tries against 9; Average score 32-17.
• Bryan Habana is the most capped Springbok wing with 80 Tests and also holds the records for most tries in all Tests by a Springbok (43) and most tries by a Springbok in this competition (10).
• Bryan needs one try to equal Breyton Paulse’s record of seven career tries in tests against Australia.
• Jean de Villiers, the most capped Springbok centre with 64 Tests in this position, will become only the seventh Springbok to reach 80 Tests for South Africa. This will also be his 20th Test against Australia.
• Johan Goosen, who made his Bok debut in Perth earlier this month aged 20 years, 1 month and 12 days, is the fourth youngest player to play Test rugby for the Springboks since readmission in 1992. The youngest was Frans Steyn (19 years, 5 months, 28 days), followed by Chiliboy Ralepelle (19 years, 11 months, 15 days) and Pat Lambie (20 years and 20 days).
• The referee for this Test is Alain Rolland (Ireland), who has refereed in 14 Tests involving South Africa. The Springboks won eight of those tests and lost six. Rolland, together with Steve Walsh of Australia, are currently the two referees who have refereed the most Test matches involving South Africa.
• Springbok overall Test match records at Loftus Versfeld:
o Most points – 31 by Percy Montgomery (2t, 9c, 1p) in 1998 against Wales.
o Most tries – 3 by Danie Gerber in 1982 against South America and by Pieter Rossouw in 1998 against Wales.
o Most conversions – 9 by Percy Montgomery in 1998 against Wales.
o Most penalty goals – 6 by Gerald Bosch in 1975 against France and by Braam van Straaten in 2000 against England.
o Most drop goals – 1 by each of five players.