Rugby: Springboks recall Matfield as skipper, amid major squad changes

Victor Matfield during a match between the Melbourne Rebels and the Northern Bulls of South Africa in Melbourne on June 6, 2015.
Victor Matfield during a match between the Melbourne Rebels and the Northern Bulls of South Africa in Melbourne on June 6, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

Reuters - Victor Matfield's return to captain South Africa in Argentina on Saturday is one of eight personnel changes made by coach Heyneke Meyer from the team that suffered a shock 37-25 loss to the Pumas in Durban last weekend.

Fullback Zane Kirchner, wing Lwazi Mvovo, fly-half Pat Lambie, loose-forward Willem Alberts and front-rowers Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss and Trevor Nyakane have all been handed their first starts of 2015.

Centre Jan Serfontein and hooker Schalk Brits have also been included in the match-23 for the first time this season.

Kirchner takes over at full-back from the injured Willie le Roux, and Jesse Kriel moves from wing to centre for Jean de Villiers, who is out for between four and six weeks with a fractured jaw.

Alberts replaces the injured Marcell Coetzee in what will be his first Test in more than a year.

"It's great to have Victor and Willem back from their injuries and we're all looking forward to going to Buenos Aires (to) improve on our performance from last weekend," Meyer said in a statement on Wednesday.

"A few more players in our enlarged squad will get opportunities this weekend and I'm excited to see what they can do in difficult circumstances, playing in front of a very noisy crowd against a strong side away from home."

Meyer has called for more physicality from his side after their flat performance in Durban led to a fourth Test defeat in a row. "Our physicality was not what it should have been last week and we need to make a big step up in that department," he said.

"I also thought the front row of Trevor, Adriaan and Marcel finished the match strongly in Durban so it made sense to retain them for this weekend."

Lock Lood de Jager, prop Vincent Koch and scrumhalf Fourie du Preez were ruled out for this weekend.

The match is a final warm-up for South Africa ahead of the Sept 18-Oct 31 World Cup in England. They have been drawn in Pool B along with Japan, Samoa, Scotland and the United States.

Team: 15-Zane Kirchner, 14-Lwazi Mvovo, 13-Jesse Kriel, 12-Damian de Allende, 11-Bryan Habana, 10-Pat Lambie, 9-Ruan Pienaar, 8-Schalk Burger, 7-Willem Alberts, 6-Heinrich Brussow, 5-Victor Matfield (captain), 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Marcel van der Merwe, 2-Adriaan Strauss, 1-Trevor Nyakane Replacements: 16-Schalk Brits, 17-Tendai Mtawarira, 18-Frans Malherbe, 19-Flip van der Merwe, 20-Pieter-Steph du Toit, 21-Cobus Reinach, 22-Handre Pollard, 23-Jan Serfontein