Jacques van der Westhuyzen

By Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Head of Sport

Vermeulen to captain Boks against Wallabies as Kleyn, Libbok start

The Springboks will be keen to make a good start to the shortened version of the Rugby Championship this year.

Duane Vermeulen will captain the Springboks against the Wallabies in the Rugby Championship opener at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday, kick-off 5pm.

Vermeulen, 37, will lead the side for the third time in the absence of regular captain Siya Kolisi, who is nursing a knee injury and is in a race against time to be fit for the World Cup, which starts in France in September.

The former Stormers and Bulls No 8 (37 years and 5 day) will become the third oldest Bok captain after Victor Matfield (38 years 172 days) and Schalk Brits (38 year and 135 days).

Duane Vermeulen
Duane Vermeulen will captain the Boks on Saturday. Picture: Gallo Images

Jean Kleyn to ‘debut’

The Bok team also includes former Ireland lock Jean Kleyn, who now qualifies for South Africa having not played for his adopted country in three years, while URC star Manie Libbok of the Stormers will wear the No 10 jersey for the first time after playing off the bench in his three other Tests.

England-based Harlequins centre Andre Esterhuizen will also get a rare chance to show what he can do while Bulls duo Canan Moodie and Kurt-Lee Arendse will play at their home ground.

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Up front, home-town flank Marco van Staden joins Vermeulen and Pieter-Steph du Toit in the loose-trio, while on the bench, the exciting RG Snyman returns after a lengthy injury layoff and Evan Roos and Deon Fourie get an opportunity against the Australians.

Coach Jacques Nienaber has opted for a six-two bench split, with Grant Williams and Damian Willemse the only two backs among the replacements.

Bok team: Willie le Roux, Canan Moodie, Lukhanyo Am, Andre Esterhuizen, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Manie Libbok, Cobus Reinach, Duane Vermeulen (capt), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Marco van Staden, Marvin Orie, Jean Kleyn, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche. Bench: Joseph Dweba, Thomas du Toit, Vincent Koch, RG Snyman, Evan Roos, Deon Fourie, Grant Williams, Damian Willemse