Veteran prop Gurthro Steenkamp will celebrate half a century of Test caps for the Springboks when South Africa play Wales in Durban on Saturday.
The 32-year-old is one of six changes Wednesday in the starting line-up for the series of matches, after the past weekend’s victory over the World XV.
“This is a wonderful achievement for Gurthro and I’m very proud of him,” said South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer.
“He has been playing Test rugby for a decade and is vastly experienced at all levels of the game.”
Steenkamp made his debut for the Springboks against Scotland in Edinburgh on November 27, 2004. He is the 20th player for the side to reach the 50-cap milestone.
Youngster Cornal Hendricks, 26, who played his first Springbok match last weekend, will make his Test debut as well on Saturday.
“Cornal performed exceptionally well in his first start for South Africa against the World XV last weekend and really made the most of his opportunity,” said Meyer.
The starting line-up features more changes than the coach would have liked, his hand having been forced in some cases.
Jan Serfontein replaces Frans Steyn in the midfield after the star back’s unexplained and unexpected withdrawal from the squad Tuesday to consider his future in international rugby.
“I also planned on giving Jan an opportunity this month. He was first selected when he was 20 last year and it’s always been our plan to groom him for a long Springbok career,” said Meyer.
Fourie du Preez comes in for Ruan Pienaar to rotate the scrumhalf position.
The Boks have their work cut out, after Wales scored an easy 34-12 victory against South Africa’s Eastern Province Kings in a warm-up match on Tuesday.
“This will be a massive challenge in our first Test of the season,” said Meyer of the clash against the 2012 and 2013 Six Nations champions.
Willie le Roux; Cornal Hendricks, JP Pietersen, Jan Serfontein, Bryan Habana; Morne Steyn, Fourie du Preez; Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw; Victor Matfield (capt), Bakkies Botha; Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Gurthro Steenkamp
Replacements: Schalk Brits, Tendai Mtawarira, Coenie Oosthuizen, Lood de Jager, Schalk Burger, Ruan Pienaar, Johan Goosen, Lwazi Mvovo