South Africa recall Francois Hougaard for Argentina Rugby Championship clash
Last Updated: 24/08/17 3:18pm
Scrum-half Francois Hougaard returns to South Africa's starting line-up in place of the injured Ross Cronje for their Rugby Championship fixture away to Argentina on Saturday, live on Sky Sports.
Coach Allister Coetzee has otherwise kept faith with the match-day 23 that claimed a 37-15 victory over the same opposition in their tournament opener in Port Elizabeth last weekend.
Rudy Paige has been named as the scrum-half replacement on the bench for the game in Salta and Coetzee admitted it was likely he would use him at some point.
"Francois [Hougaard] has played a lot of Test match rugby, his work ethic is second to none and he has been working hard up to now since joining the squad," Coetzee said in a statement on Thursday.
"Rudy made a good impact in the third Test against France (in June) and I expect the same from him this weekend."
Cronje, who injured his ankle in Port Elizabeth, also missed that match against France, the last time 29-year-old Hougaard started for the Springboks.
Coetzee has spoken at length of his desire for continuity in his selections, and added that competition for places in a team finding a richer vein of form, after a disastrous 2016, was intense.
The Boks have won all four Tests they have played in 2017 after losing eight of 12 last year. This will be their first fixture of the year outside of South Africa.
"The players outside of the match 23 squad are all knocking on the door and that is a great position to be in," Coetzee added.
"This [Argentina away] is going to be a different challenge but I have no doubt the players will benefit.
"Our approach and preparation will be just the same as when we prepared for all our home Tests: we must again show patience, hunger and the desire to execute our game plan."
Both previous contests between the two sides in Salta have ended in narrow victories, one for each side.
The Boks edged matters 33-31 in 2014 while Argentina turned the tables last year with a 26-24 victory over Coetzee's men, a first home victory over South Africa in their history.
The Pumas themselves are going through a rough patch, however, having won just two of their 12 Tests since that victory.
South Africa team to face Argentina in Salta: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Francois Hougaard; 1 Tendai Mtawarira, 2 Malcolm Marx, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 5 Franco Mostert, 6 Siya Kolisi, 7 Jaco Kriel, 8 Uzair Cassiem.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Curwin Bosch, 23 Damian de Allende.