Eben Etzebeth will captain South Africa in their opening Rugby Championship game of 2019, against Australia at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Etzebeth takes over the captaincy from regular skipper Siya Kolisi, who is recovering from a knee injury, while Aphiwe Dyantyi was also not considered for selection because of a hamstring injury. It will be Etzebeth’s 12th Test as Bok captain.
Rynhardt Elstadt (Toulouse) and Herschel Jantjies (Stormers) are the only two uncapped players in the starting team, while Lizo Gqoboka (prop, Bulls) is also set to earn his debut off the bench.
Elstadt is picked at flank in a loose trio that also includes the experienced duo of Pieter-Steph du Toit (46 caps) and Francois Louw (65 caps). Jantjies, will play alongside the 33-cap Elton Jantjies in a new-look half-back combination.
On the bench there is also a return to the Bok fold for a number of familiar faces as Rassie Erasmus casts his net wide with the 2019 Rugby World Cup squad in mind. They are Ulster loose forward Marcell Coetzee, Cobus Reinach (Northampton Saints, scrum-half), the mercurial Frans Steyn (Montpellier, utility back) and Dillyn Leyds (Stormers, utility back).
Australia head coach Michael Cheika has unveiled a new-look Test outfit to face South Africa.
Waratahs prop Harry Johnson-Holmes is a shock inclusion in the 23 while James Slipper and Nic White both make long-awaited returns to the international arena.
Rebels number eight Isi Naisarani is the only debutant in the starting side but the XV looks very different to its last outing, with just 10 of the 23 from their 2018 season-ending match against England named to play.
Tom Banks’ start relegates Kurtley Beale to the bench while Rebels full-back Dane Haylett-Petty will line up on the wing.
Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani will team up in the centres with Kerevi also taking on vice-captain responsibilities for the first time.
Johnson-Holmes is a surprise addition to the bench, after arriving in Johannesburg late on Wednesday local time, less than three days out from the match.
Allan Alaalatoa was ruled out with a foot injury, following the departures of looseheads Scott Sio (adductor) and Tom Robertson (ankle).
Hooker Jordan Uelese will play his first Test in nearly two years after battling his way back from a knee reconstruction this season.
South Africa: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 S’bu Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Francois Louw, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth (c), 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Beast Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Dillyn Leyds
Australia: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nic White, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 5 Rory Arnold, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper
Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Jack Dempsey, 21 Will Genia, 22 Matt To’omua, 23 Kurtley Beale
Date: Saturday, July 20
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 18:05 Kenyan time
TV: Supersport 1
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Matthew Carley (England), Karl Dickson (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)
-Material derived from Planet Rugby