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Springboks change for England; De Villiers captain for year

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Associated Press
6/20/2012 9:24:11 AM
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PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa -- South Africa made three changes to its starting 15 on Wednesday for the third and final test against England, while centre Jean de Villiers was appointed captain for the remainder of the season.

Coach Heyneke Meyer gave a first test cap to flanker Jacques Potgieter after Willem Alberts was ruled out of Saturday's game in Port Elizabeth following a knee ligament injury in the Springboks' 36-27 win in the second test last weekend.

Gio Aplon was in for injured fullback Patrick Lambie, and Wynand Olivier replaced Francois Steyn at inside centre because Steyn was getting married this weekend.

Meyer also said De Villiers, who led South Africa to the series victory over England with wins in the first two tests, would remain as skipper in the upcoming Rugby Championship and end-of-year tour to Europe.

De Villiers was picked as temporary captain for the England series following the international retirement of John Smit last year but will now lead the Boks for their remaining nine tests in 2012.

"It's easy working with this team and the help that I've received from the other senior players has made my job so much easier," De Villiers said. "I'm looking forward to working with them for the rest of the year and hopefully we can grow as a team and reach our goal of becoming No. 1 in the world."

Meyer said De Villiers, South Africa's most capped centre with 74 tests, had established himself as "a brilliant leader."

The Boks coach also made two changes in the reserves, with flyhalf Elton Jantjies included in a test 22 for the first time and loose forward Ryan Kankowski selected ahead of his Sharks teammate Keegan Daniel.

Powerful flanker Potgieter was initially a surprise selection in Meyer's squad for the England series after playing in only his first season of Super rugby this year. He will make his test debut in his home city of Port Elizabeth.

No. 8 Pierre Spies will play his 50th test as South Africa goes in search of a series sweep at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. South Africa's other injury worry, lock Juandre Kruger, recovered from a neck problem and was retained in the 15.

England will name its team for the final test on Thursday but will be forced into at least one change from the lineup that fought bravely but fell just short in the second test at Ellis Park.

Captain and flanker Chris Robshaw sustained a cracked right thumb and won't play. Hooker Dylan Hartley was chosen to captain the team in his place.

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South Africa: Gio Aplon, JP Pietersen, Jean de Villiers (captain), Wynand Olivier, Bryan Habana, Morne Steyn, Francois Hougaard, Pierre Spies, Jacques Potgieter, Marcell Coetzee, Juandre Kruger, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira. Reserves: Adriaan Strauss, Werner Kruger, Flip van der Merwe, Ryan Kankowski, Ruan Pienaar, Elton Jantjies, Bjorn Basson.

Jean de Villiers (Photo: Gallo Images/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Gallo Images/Getty Images)
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