PRETORIA (Reuters) - South Africa coach Allister Coetzee has included four new caps in his starting line-up to face France in the first test at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, including Ghana-born wing Raymond Rhule.
The other uncapped players are fullback Andries Coetzee, wing Courtnall Skosan and scrumhalf Ross Cronje, all from the Lions Super Rugby franchise, as the Springboks seek to put behind them a horror 2016 in which they lost eight of their 12 tests.
A fifth uncapped player, Dillyn Leyds, is on the bench and can cover in the fullback, wing and flyhalf positions. The 2007 World Cup winner Frans Steyn, who has not played a test since 2012, is also named among the replacements.
The team has only seven survivors from the side that lost their final test of 2016 against Wales, with only four of those starting, as Coetzee attempts to turn around the fortunes of the side by selecting players on form and who are familiar with each other at club level.
“We have gone for settled combinations and selected players for the starting XV who have trained well with us,” Coetzee said in a statement. “They are in good form so far this season and they will be battle-ready. It is a great opportunity for our uncapped players to cement their places in the team.”
The Boks will have a new loose-forward trio with captain Warren Whiteley at the back of the scrum, and Oupa Mahoje and the dynamic Siya Kolisi in the less familiar number six jersey in front of him.
“I am excited about our loose trio combination. Siya Kolisi has played at openside for the Springboks and the Stormers and I know he will be able to do the job for us,” Coetzee said.
“Oupa Mohoje has good ball-carrying abilities, he is an excellent lineout option and I think the combination will complement each other.”
He said 21-year-old Jean-Luc du Preez was an exciting prospect who would make an impact off the bench.
Saturday’s test is the first of three against France, with matches also in Durban (June 17) and Johannesburg (June 24)
South Africa team: 15-Andries Coetzee, 14-Raymond Rhule, 13-Jesse Kriel, 12-Jan Serfontein, 11-Courtnall Skosan, 10-Elton Jantjies, 9-Ross Cronje, 8-Warren Whiteley (captain), 7-Oupa Mohoje, 6-Siya Kolisi, 5-Franco Mostert, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Frans Malherbe, 2-Malcolm Marx, 1-Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16-Bongi Mbonambi, 17-Steven Kitshoff, 18-Coenie Oosthuizen, 19-Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20-Jean-Luc du Preez, 21-Francois Hougaard, 22-Frans Steyn, 23-Dillyn Leyds
Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Jon Boyle