Springboks seek redemption after humiliation in New Zealand
South Africa reacted to its humiliation at the hands of New Zealand by bringing back overseas-based flanker Francois Louw and gambling on utility back Dillyn Leyds for the Rugby Championship game against Australia on Saturday.
Coach Allister Coetzee, promising a strong response in Bloemfontein to the Springboks' record 57-0 loss to the All Blacks two weeks ago, was also able to recall regular scrumhalf Ross Cronje after illness.
Coetzee hopes it will be enough to repair the Boks' shattered confidence after their heaviest defeat ever — and stave off renewed calls for him to leave the job.
Australia is poised to make the most of South Africa's woes, although the Wallabies haven't won in South Africa since 2011 and have also switched things around for the game in Bloemfontein.
Lock Izack Rodda, flanker Jack Dempsey, and winger Marika Koroibete will start for Australia for the first time, part of coach Michael Cheika's plan to "change it up" as he seeks his first win in South Africa.
The 21-year-old Rodda, especially, will find himself at the coal face against the desperate Springboks.
"Izack is young, he is eager, and I want to give them these experiences so they can learn," Cheika said. "I don't think there is any risk there because he has come off the bench and played well in two big games and I can't see why starting is any different. It's a step along the way."
History is against Australia, which has struggled in South Africa for the last six years. The Wallabies may be boosted by the fact that they ran New Zealand close last month, something South Africa hasn't been able to do for years.
For South Africa, Louw comes in at flank for Jean-Luc du Preez and Leyds at right wing for Raymond Rhule, who was severely criticized for his defensive performance against the rampant All Blacks in Albany. Chiliboy Ralepelle, who served a two-year doping ban, was brought in on the bench and could play his first test since 2013.
Rhule and scrumhalf Francois Hougaard, who started two weeks ago, have paid the biggest prices for the 57-0 drubbing by being left out of the 23 completely. Rhule was sent back to his domestic team as Coetzee was forced to act after the worst of a string of embarrassing results in his 18-month reign.
"We know we had a substandard game, but we have put it behind us and are busy with our turnaround strategy," he said. "The players and management have had a meeting, and we all want to make things right this week."
The team had now "buried Albany," Coetzee said. "That defeat won't define us. We're not going to sweep it under the carpet, but so far we have won five out of seven this season, and at times we've played outstanding rugby. What is key now is our response."