Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has named two uncapped players in his starting lineup and a further four among the replacements, reshuffling his squad ahead of the second Test against Wales in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
In-form players Kurt-Lee Arendse (outside back) and Evan Roos (No 8) have been handed starts, while Ntuthuko Mchunu (prop), Ruan Nortje (lock), Deon Fourie (utility forward) and Grant Williams (scrumhalf) could make their debuts off the bench.
Only four players in the match-23 retained their places in the squad from last week’s 32-29 victory in the opening Test against Wales, with experienced lock Eben Etzebeth set to earn his 99th cap for South Africa, while hooker Malcolm Marx, prop Vincent Koch and utility back Damian Willemse have been included on the bench.
Furthermore, experienced flyhalf Handre Pollard, who returns to the squad after not featuring in the first Test, will take over the captaincy from Siya Kolisi.
Nienaber said it was crucial to build depth by mixing things up ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup.
“There are a few new faces who showed during the season that they have the potential to rise to this level of the game, so we are excited to see what they can do on Saturday,” he said.
“Wales showed last week that they are fighters and can go for the full 80 minutes and we are expecting nothing different from them this week.
“This will certainly be a good test for the younger players in the group to measure themselves against some of the best players in Wales.”
Nienaber again opted for a split of six forwards and two backs on the bench, with Willemse’s versatility seeing him able to cover flyhalf, centre and fullback, while Williams, who has been waiting in the wings at scrumhalf, provides cover for his provincial team-mate Jaden Hendrikse.
“We are delighted to see these players get an opportunity at this level and I believe if they play to their potential, they will bolster our depth going forward,” said Nienaber.
“They are all very excited at the prospect of wearing the green and gold, but they also know what Wales will bring on the day and that every opportunity will be important.”
On Pollard handing the captaincy, the Bok coach said: “Handre is one of our most experienced players and has been part of our core leadership group for a number of years now. I’m sure he will slot into the role with ease.”
Warrick Gelant, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Jesse Kriel, Andre Esterhuizen, Aphelele Fassi, Handre Pollard (captain), Jaden Hendrikse, Evan Roos, Pieter-Steph du Tit, Marcell Coetzee, Marvin orie, Eben Etzebeth, Trevor Nyakane, Joseph Dweba, Thomas du Toit
Bench: Malcolm Marx, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Vincent Koch, Ruan Nortje, Rynhardt Elstadt, Deon Fourie, Grant Williams, Damian Willemse