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South Africa vs. Argentina preview

Jean de Villiers returns to Skipper Boks against Pumas

Springbok Captain Jean de Villiers makes his remarkable comeback from a horrific knee injury when he leads South Africa in their Rugby Championship clash against Argentina at King’s Park on Saturday.

The 34-year old Skipper has yet to feature in a Test in 2015, and his return will be a major boost to head coach Heyneke Meyer ahead of South Africa’s September-October World Cup campaign.

As a result of his inclusion at the outside centre, explosive prospect Jesse Kriel, who has a two tries in two Test appearances, will move to right wing.

The other changes to the team are all also injury-enforced after South Africa’s bruising last month ruled them out of contention for this year’s championship.

In the front row, Stormers prop Vincent Koch makes his first start f after making his debut as a replacement against the All Blacks while flanker Marcell Coetzee returns and will take over from Francois Louw.

Another player returning from long-term injury is lock Pieter-Stef du Toit, who takes his place on the bench having not played for the Springboks since 2013

Argentina coach Daniel Hourcade has made 11 changes, dropping eight players, ahead of the final game of the campaign following being soundly beaten by New Zealand and Australia.

Nicolas Sanchez is dropped to bring in experienced fly-half Juan Martin Hernandez, who returns for his first Test of 2015.

Wing Juan Imhoff is the only survivor from the team that lost 34-9 to the Wallabies in Mendoza in the much-changed backline.

Jeronimo de la Fuente and Marcelo Bosch, who played in the Championship opener against New Zealand return to the starting team to make up the midfield.

Hooker Agustin Creevy continues to captain the side after two impressive displays while lock Tomas Lavanini and veteran Marcos Ayerza are the only other forwards to retain their place.

South Africa have the worst lineout success this year and are they only team yet to steal an opposition throw while the Pumas have the worst ball retention rate at the scrum in the competition thus far.

Both sides also head into the game with two losses from their opening Rugby Championship matches, with a third loss to either meaning they will finish in last place.

RUCK Prediction

Argentina has never beaten South Africa, and it seems unlikely on their first two performances that they will be able to pull off anything special. The Boks have showed some good attacking play against the All Blacks and despite the two losses have started to look decent while Argentina have gone a bit backwards.

South Africa by 20

Teams

South Africa

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Jesse Kriel, 13 Jean de Villiers (c), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar; 1 Tendai Mtawarira, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 3 Vincent Koch, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 5 Lood de Jager, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 8 Schalk Burger.

Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Pieter-Stef du Toit, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Lwazi Mvovo.

Argentina

15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Juan Martin Hernandez, 9 Tomas Cubelli; 1 Marcos Ayerza, 2 Agustin Creevy (c), 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 4 Guido Petti Pagadizabal, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 6 Pablo Matera, 7 Juan Leguizamon, 8 Leonardo Senatore.

Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera Paz, 18 Matias Diaz, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino.