Vermeulen to skipper much-changed Springboks in New Zealand

Duane Vermeulen will captain South Africa against New Zealand in Saturday's Rugby Championship clash after Rassie Erasmus made 12 changes to his Springboks side.

South Africa defeated Australia 35-17 in Johannesburg last weekend, but Erasmus had already sent a separate group of players to New Zealand to prepare for the All Blacks.

They are joined by Eben Etzebeth, who was skipper last time out, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Makazole Mapimpi in the XV in Wellington.

Number eight Vermeulen leads the side, joining Du Toit and the inexperienced Kwagga Smith in the back row.

Willie le Roux is in at full-back and Cheslin Kolbe is included on the right wing. Damian de Allende, Lukhanyo Am, Handre Pollard and Faf de Klerk are also involved.

Franco Mostert will partner Etzebeth in the second row, while Herschel Jantjies, having debuted last weekend against the Wallabies, has done enough to earn a place on the bench.

Erasmus explained: "We have the utmost respect for the All Blacks who are the undisputed number one rugby team in the world.

"We know we will have to be at our very best to be competitive against the All Blacks on Saturday and that is why we have sent a group of players in advance to Wellington, so they could acclimatise after the long trip over from South Africa.

"The New Zealanders are a very experienced and settled side while we have some catching up to do in terms of where the two sides are at the moment."

 

South Africa XV to face New Zealand: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert, Kwagga Smith, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, RG Snyman, Francois Louw, Herschel Jantjies, Frans Steyn, Jesse Kriel.

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