/ Rugby

Springboks bring in three debutants

Updated: Wednesday, 06 Jun 2012 13:20

Eben Etzebeth, Juandre Kruger and Marcell Coetzee attend the team announcement at Kashmir
Eben Etzebeth, Juandre Kruger and Marcell Coetzee attend the team announcement at Kashmir

South Africa have named three uncapped forwards in their team to face England in Saturday's first Test against England.

Locks Juandre Kruger and Eben Etzebeth were both included in new coach Heyneke Meyer's side for the clash at Durban's Kings Park along with flanker Marcell Coetzee.

A fourth newcomer, prop Coenie Oosthuizen, could make his first appearance off the bench.

The players add a new dimension to an otherwise experienced side following a series of retirements and injuries.

The starting 15 still boasts a combined total of 458 Test caps with nine of the players that featured in last year's World Cup quarter-final against Australia retained.

Meyer said: "Eben, Juandre, Marcell and Coenie have all put their hands up this season and I know they can succeed at Test level.

"It is quite a new thing in South African rugby to have two uncapped locks starting. It is a huge step up but I am confident in them.

"I am very happy for them and their families and know they will make South Africa proud.

"Although the team is quite young, we still have some experience across the starting 15.

"The balance in the team is right in the way we want to play against England and we're looking forward to the first Test."

The other main issue in the team was the decision to hand the vice-captaincy to hooker Bismarck du Plessis.

Du Plessis is one of the world's best number twos but has still faced a battle for that position and the vice-captain's role from Adriaan Strauss, who will be on the bench.

Strauss will take over as vice-captain if and when he replaces Du Plessis during the game.

Meyer announced earlier in the week that the side would be captained by centre Jean de Villiers throughout the three-Test series.

Meyer said: "We're fortunate to have a strong leadership core in Jean, Bismarck and - if he gets replaced - Adriaan."

Zane Kirchner was chosen at full-back in a back line that also features JP Pietersen, De Villiers, Frans Steyn and Bryan Habana.

South Africa team to face England in first Test at Kings Park, Durban, on Saturday 9 June:

Z Kirchener; JP Pietersen, J de Villiers (capt), F Steyn, B Habana; M Steyn, F Hougaard; T Mtawarira, B du Plessis, J du Plessis; E Etzebeth, J Kruger, M Coetzee, W Alberts, P Spies.

Replacements: A Strauss, C Oosthuizen, F van der Merwe, K Daniel, R Pienaar, P Lambie, W Olivier.

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