Veteran Vermeulen to lead South Africa against AustraliaTue, 04 Jul 2023 12:53:06 GMT

Duane Vermeulen will stand in for injured Siya Kolisi as captain of Rugby World Cup title-holders South Africa when they face Australia on Saturday in a Rugby Championship first round match.Kolisi suffered a serious knee injury last April and will be available only in August, when the Springboks play three warm-up games before the World Cup kicks off in France the following month.Vastly experienced No. 8 Vermeulen has been a caretaker captain before and is given the honour again in what the 36-year-old says will be his final season before retiring.”We had a few options as potential captains and we have two good leaders in Duane and Lukhanyo (Am), who has been named vice-captain for this match,” said coach Jacques Nienaber.”They are both quality leaders and they will have a lot of experience around them on the field, which is fantastic for us as coaches.”Apart from Kolisi, fly-half Handre Pollard, lock Eben Etzebeth and scrum-half Jaden Hendrikse could not be considered due to injuries.Manie Libbok starts as playmaker, Cobus Reinach partners him at half-back and uncapped Jean Kleyn and Marvin Orie are the locks.The starting line-up includes one new cap, Johannesburg-born Kleyn, who switched allegiance from Ireland after representing his adopted country at the 2019 World Cup in Japan.It shows nine changes from the team that beat England convincingly when the Springboks last played, in London last November.The survivors are full-back Willie le Roux, winger Kurt-Lee Arendse, outside centre Am, and the entire front row of props Ox Nche and Frans Malherbe and hooker Bongi Mbonambi.Nienaber and director of rugby Rassie Erasmus have decided to split a 42-man squad, sending an advance party of 13 players, including unavailable Kolisi, to New Zealand this week.New Zealand time is 10 hours ahead of South Africa and the move is designed to combat jet leg as the world champions prepare for a clash with arch rivals the All Blacks in Auckland on July 15.Team (15-1)Willie le Roux; Canan Moodie, Lukhanyo Am, Andre Esterhuizen, Kurt-Lee Arendse; Manie Libbok, Cobus Reinach; Duane Vermeulen (capt), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Marco van Staden; Marvin Orie, Jean Kleyn; Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Ox NcheReplacements: Joseph Dweba, Thomas du Toit, Vincent Koch, RG Snyman, Evan Roos, Deon Fourie, Grant Williams, Damian WillemseCoach: Jacques Nienaber (RSA)