South Africa make eight changes for Test against Argentina
South Africa's preparations for the rugby World Cup suffered a severe blow with last Saturday's defeat to Argentina in the Rugby Championship. Coach Heyneke Meyer announced sweeping changes on Tuesday for their final game before the tournament squad is announced.
At first site it appears that Meyer took an axe to the team humilated 37-25 in Durban in the final game of this year's Rugby Championship.
Eight of the team are gone; but five are absent through injury. Thrree have been dropped.
In come full-back Zane Kirchner, winger Lwazi Mvovo, fly-half Patrick Lambie, front rowers Trevor Nyakane, Adriaan Strauss and Marcel van der Merwe, lock Victor Matfield and loose forward Willem Alberts.
And out go injured quintet Willie le Roux, Jean de Villiers, Vincent Koch, Lood de Jager and Marcell Coetzee.
Handre Pollard, Tendai Mtawarira and Bismarck du Plessis are the players judged not to have functioned efficiently.
The 2015 Rugby Championship was curtailed to three - instead of the usual six games - to allow teams time to prepare for the World Cup which starts in England and Wales in September.
Australia won the Rugby Championship for the first time since it was revamped from the Tri-Nations series in 2012 to include Argentina. New Zealand, who had won the three previous titles, were runners-up.
South Africa, who finished bottom for the first time, will play Argentina on Saturday in Buenos Aires. It will be the last Test before coaches in both countries name 31-man squads for the World Cup. For the South Africans, it will be an opportuinity to restore some pride.
The debacle in Durban was the first time the Springboks had lost to the South Americans in 20 Tests. It was condemned as the most embarrassing defeat for the side since a 49-0 meltdown in Australia nine years ago.
"We are all looking forward to going to Buenos Aires and improving on our performance of last weekend," Meyer said. "A few more players in our enlarged squad will get opportunities this weekend and I am excited to see what they can do.
"The circumstances will be difficult, playing away in front of a very noisy crowd against strong opponents."
Reviewing the performance at Kings Park, Meyer added: "Our physicality was not what it should have been last weekend and we need to make a big step up in that department."
Powerful scrummaging provided the platform for one of the greatest Argentine rugby triumphs.
Meyer reacted by choosing a new front row, bringing in props Nyakane at loosehead and Van der Merwe at tighthead and hooker Strauss.
Koch was repeatedly exposed in the set pieces by the Argentine veteran Marcos Ayerza.
Another change that came as no surprise was at fly-half with Lambie getting his first start of the season in place of Pollard.
Nothing went right for the 21-year-old last weekend. He was jeered by a section of the crowd when a kick-off went directly into touch.
South Africa, who won the World Cup in 1995 and 2011, are in Pool B with Japan, Samoa, Scotland and the United States, while Argentina are in Pool C alongside Georgia, Namibia, defending champions New Zealand and Tonga.
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