Prop Frans Malherbe is to make his debut for South Africa against Wales on Saturday, while other injuries have forced coach Heyneke Meyer into picking an experienced backline.
The 22-year-old Malherbe comes in for the injured Jannie du Plessis and faces a baptism of fire against a tested Welsh front-row of British and Irish Lions veterans Adam Jones, Richard Hibbard and Gethin Jenkins.
“Frans has big boots to fill, but he’s been with us for most of 2012 and shown good form since recovering from injury recently and we don’t have any doubts that he has what it takes to make the step up,” Meyer said on Wednesday.
Malherbe will pack down alongside hooker Bismarck du Plessis and experienced Zimbabwe-born prop Tendai Mtawarira, something not lost on Meyer.
“He’ll have two players with more than 50 Test caps each next to him in the scrum, and his general work-rate across the field and on defence is very good,” the coach said.
The only other change to the pack is at lock, with Flip van der Merwe starting next to Eben Etzebeth in the second row.
Star backs JP Pietersen and Jaque Fourie are also back in the Springbok team for the match at the Millennium Stadium.
It will be Fourie’s first Test for South Africa since the Rugby World Cup in 2011, while a combination of injury and non-availability means Pietersen is back for his first taste of international rugby yet this season.
“We’re very fortunate to have two world-class players in JP and Jaque available for selection and I wanted to get them into the action as soon as possible,” Meyer said.
“They bring a vast amount of experience to the team and it was clear from our training sessions thus far that they are in great form and ready for Test rugby.”
A second uncapped player, Pieter-Steph du Toit, could make his Test debut for the Springboks, the lock having been included on the bench for this Test.
“To see Frans and Pieter-Steph make the step up to Test match rugby is wonderful,” Meyer said.
“They are two very promising young players and deserve to play for the Springboks, just like we’ve used, with great success, players such as Willie le Roux, Jan Serfontein, JJ Engelbrecht, Arno Botha, Marcell Coetzee, Siya Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth and Trevor Nyakane in the last two seasons.”
Saturday’s match will be the first time the two countries have met since the Springboks edged a 2011 World Cup pool game in Wellington 17-16.
Wales, however, went on to reach the semi-finals and take successive Six Nations titles.
Wales have beaten South Africa just once in 26 internationals stretching back 107 years.
South Africa (15-1)
Pat Lambie; JP Pietersen, Jaque Fourie, Jean de Villiers (capt), Bryan Habana; Morne Steyn, Fourie du Preez; Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw; Flip van der Merwe, Eben Etzebeth; Frans Malberhe, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Gurthro Steenkamp, Coenie Oosthuizen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Ruan Pienaar, JJ Engelbrecht, Willie le Roux