South Africa have recalled flanker Heinrich Brussow after a four-year absence for a Rugby Championship clash with New Zealand in Johannesburg Saturday.
His last appearance for the Springboks was in the 2011 Rugby World Cup quarter-finals loss to Australia in New Zealand.
Brussow is one of two changes — both enforced by injuries — from the team that started in a 24-20 defeat by Australia in Brisbane last Saturday.
He replaces Marcell Coetzee, who suffered a knock on his knee, and Lood de Jager comes in at lock for hamstring casualty Victor Matfield.
The absence of Matfield gives No. 8 and fellow veteran Schalk Burger the chance to skipper the Springboks for the first time.
“Heinrich has been great this season before he got injured and played his way into contention,” coach Heyneke Meyer said.
“As with other players returning from Super Rugbyinjuries, he deserves an opportunity.
“We decided it was better to start with him and use Warren (Whiteley) as an impact player later in the match.
“The breakdown battle will again be huge and it will be good to see Heinrich and Francois (Louw) playing together.
“They are versatile players and I am convinced they will combine perfectly.
“Injuries have forced our hand a bit, but we have stuck with our planned rotational policy on the bench.”
There are five changes among the replacements with props Trevor Nyakane and Vincent Koch, lock Flip van der Merwe, No. 8 Warren Whiteley and winger Cornal Hendricks coming in.
They take over from Heinke van der Merwe, Frans Malherbe, De Jager, Teboho ‘Oupa’ Mohoje and Lwazi Mvovo.
Brussow from the Bloemfontein-based Central Cheetahs Super 15 team has been repeatedly ignored by Meyer since he succeeded Peter de Villiers in 2012 as national coach.
Meyer reportedly believed fetcher Brussow was too small for Test rugby and prone to conceding penalties.
Even when outstanding Super 15 form this season won the 29-year-old a place in a 49-man preliminary squad, few pundits believed he would start a Test.
The selection of Brussow as openside flanker necessitates a positional switch in the back row with Francois Louw crossing to the blindside.
World champions New Zealand have won the three previous editions of the Rugby Championship and opened the 2015 campaign with a 39-18 triumph over Argentina in Christchurch last weekend.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen announces his team Thursday.
Willie le Roux; JP Pietersen, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Bryan Habana; Handre Pollard, Ruan Pienaar; Schalk Burger (capt), Francois Louw, Heinrich Brussow; Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth; Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane, Vincent Koch, Flip van der Merwe, Warren Whiteley, Cobus Reinach, Patrick Lambie, Cornal Hendricks
Coach: Heyneke Meyer
– Agence France-Presse