WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Francois Louw will earn his 50th test cap for South Africa against the All Blacks in their Rugby Championship clash on Saturday after coach Allister Coetzee resisted making wholesale changes to the starting XV who lost to Australia last week.
The experienced flanker Louw will reach the half-century landmark six years after making his test debut against Wales.
Lock Pieter-Steph du Toit replaces the injured Lood de Jager while tighthead prop Vincent Koch has come in for Lourens Adriaanse in the only changes from the starting 15 that lost 23-17 to the Wallabies in Brisbane.
Coetzee, however, has rejigged his replacements bench with Lions hooker Malcolm Marx expected to make his test debut from the bench as the coach looks to bring players through to replace captain Adriaan Strauss, who retires from internationals at the end of the year.
“Malcolm has huge potential and we have a plan for him and Bongi Mbonambi because of Adriaan’s retirement at the end of the season,” Coetzee said.
“Malcolm now gets a chance on the reserve bench and it would be great to see him in action, should he get the chance to go onto the park.”
Willem Alberts has taken du Toit’s spot on the bench, while Damian de Allende has replaced Lionel Mapoe as cover for the outside backs.
The Springboks have struggled this season under new coach Coetzee, having lost to Argentina in Salta two weeks ago after they needed a late surge to beat the Pumas in Nelspruit in their opening match of this year’s Championship.
The All Blacks, however, have impressed with their speed and intensity in their three wins so far and Coetzee said his side were facing a massive challenge against their traditional rivals.
“Each match between these two traditional rugby rivals is always tough, no matter what the circumstances are, and Saturday’s test is bound to be another tremendous battle,” said Coetzee.
“Our defence will have to be solid for the full duration of the match, because the All Blacks have the game breakers that will punish you for any defensive lapse.”
Team: 15-Johan Goosen, 14-Bryan Habana, 13-Jesse Kriel, 12-Juan de Jongh, 11-Francois Hougaard, 10-Elton Jantjies, 9-Faf de Klerk, 8-Warren Whiteley, 7-Oupa Mohoje, 6-Francois Louw, 5-Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Vincent Koch, 2-Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1-Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16-Malcolm Marx, 17-Steven Kitshoff, 18-Lourens Adriaanse, 19-Franco Mostert, 20-Willem Alberts, 21-Jaco Kriel, 22-Morne Steyn, 23-Damian de Allende.
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Toby Davis and Ian Chadband