Juan Smith back in green and gold

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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.

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Damian de Allende, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Juan Smith, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Bakkies Botha, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Morné Steyn, 23 Lwazi Mvovo

Date: Saturday, August 23
Venue: Estadio Padre Ernesto Martearena, Salta
Kick-off: 21.40 SA time
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: John Lacey (Ireland), Marius Mitrea (Italy)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)

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