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Vermeulen, Pollard to start for beleaguered Boks

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Vermeulen, Pollard to start for beleaguered Boks

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PARIS (Reuters) – Duane Vermeulen went straight back into the South Africa team and flyhalf Handre Pollard was restored to the starting line-up as coach Allister Coetzee made changes for the test against France on Saturday. Toulon-based Vermeulen was called up on Sunday to bolster the Springbok squad after they were humbled 38-3 Ireland in Dublin in the first of their four tests in Europe. Pollard, fully recovered after a swath of injuries over the last 18 months, will earn his 24th cap after Elton Jantjies was dropped following the loss in Dublin. It will be the first start for the 23-year-old Pollard since the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Damian de Allende was also benched with Francois Venter taking his place at centre while Wilco Louw gets a first start at prop. Louw came on after two minutes last Saturday when Coenie Oosthuizen suffered a serious knee injury and was ruled out of the rest of the tour. Vermeulen starts his first test since mid-2016 and in a reshuffled back row with Francois Louw moving to flanker to replace Pieter-Steph du Toit, who was ruled out with concussion. “Duane is very experienced and fits in well with our plan for Saturday. He is a great lineout and ball-carrying option to fill the void left by Pieter-Steph, while his leadership and experience will offer great support to Eben Etzebeth,” Coetzee said on Thursday. South Africa beat France 3-0 in a test series on home soil this year. “We have to fight back and play much better after our poor performance against Ireland. France is a much changed and improved side and will certainly pose a different challenge this time,” he added.

Team: 15-Andries Coetzee, 14-Dillyn Leyds, 13-Jesse Kriel, 12- Francois Venter, 11-Courtnall Skosan, 10-Handre Pollard, 9-Ross Cronje, 8-Duane Vermeulen, 7-Siya Kolisi, 6-Francois Louw, 5-Lood de Jager, 4-Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3-Wilco Louw, 2-Malcolm Marx, 1-Tendai Mtawarira Replacements: 16-Bongi Mbonambi, 17-Steven Kitshoff, 18-Trevor Nyakane, 19-Franco Mostert, 20-Dan du Preez, 21-Rudy Paige, 22- Elton Jantjies, 23-Damian de Allende. (Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ed Osmond)
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