JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa have handed prop Ruan Dreyer a first cap after including him among four changes in the team to face France in the third and final test at Ellis Park on Saturday, coach Allister Coetzee announced on Thursday.
Jesse Kriel returns at centre after sitting out the second test because of concussion and Francois Hougaard and Jean-Luc du Preez come in as injury replacements as the Springboks seek a whitewash of the series.
“We wanted to keep changes in the starting team to a minimum because we have huge respect for this powerful French side,” said Coetzee at a news conference.
“But the inclusion of Ruan in the starting team gives us an important opportunity to build capacity in the tighthead position. This is a very important position.”
Dreyer replaces Frans Malherbe, who is the Springbok first choice at tight head.
Kriel regains his position after Lionel Mapoe stood in for him in the 37-15 victory at King’s Park Rugby Stadium last Saturday, which sealed the series for the home team.
“Kriel’s combination with Jan Serfontein exemplifies the strong bond they have both on and off the field,” Coetzee said.
Concussion suffered by flanker Oupa Mohoje and scrumhalf Ross Cronje last Saturday in Durban has handed the opportunity to Du Preez and Hougaard.
“France will want to take some pride out of the series and they will come out all guns blazing,” the coach said.
“But we have to make sure we win the battles among the forwards and use our possession to get points on the board.”
Team: 15-Andries Coetzee, 14-Raymond Rhule, 13-Jesse Kriel, 12-Jan Serfontein, 11-Courtnall Skosan, 10-Elton Jantjies, 9-Francois Hougaard, 8-Warren Whiteley, 7-Jean-Luc du Preez, 6-Siya Kolisi, 5-Franco Mostert, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Ruan Dreyer, 2-Malcolm Marx, 1-Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16-Bongi Mbonambi, 17-Steven Kitshoff, 18-Coenie Oosthuizen, 19-Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20-Jaco Kriel, 21-Rudy Paige, 22-Frans Steyn, 23-Dillyn Leyds
Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Alison Williams