EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) — Bakkies Botha will make his first appearance for South Africa since the 2011 World Cup as one of five changes to the starting team for Sunday's autumn test against Scotland at Murrayfield.
The 34-year-old lock was surprisingly recalled by the Springboks for their end-of-year tour, just when his international career appeared over after leaving South Africa to join French club Toulon. He will win his 77th cap as Eben Etzebeth has been demoted to the bench to give the young second-rower a rest. Prop Gurthro Steenkamp and hooker Adriaan Strauss were also brought into the pack in Thursday's team announcement.
In the backs, Willie le Roux takes over at fullback, with Pat Lambie shifting to flyhalf in place of Morne Steyn. Steyn is on the bench but will have a test on a back injury on Saturday, when the availability of flanker Willem Alberts, who has a shoulder problem, will also be decided.
If Alberts fails his fitness test, Siya Kolisi will be promoted from the replacements. Winger JP Pietersen will become the 28th Springbok to reach 50 test caps. "For more than seven years, JP has been one of the most consistent players for the Springboks," South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer said. "He always gives everything he has for his country and this is just reward for the hard work and dedication he's put in over the years."
South Africa started its European tour with a hard-fought 24-15 win over Wales in Cardiff on Saturday. "We said from the start of the tour that we were going to make a few changes for this test," said Meyer. "We need to keep players fresh and motivated.
"The focus this week has been on further improvement in a number of key areas of the game, most notably our discipline. Last week against Wales we were penalised too much."
Team: Willie le Roux, JP Pietersen, Jaque Fourie, Jean de Villiers (captain), Bryan Habana, Pat Lambie, Fourie du Preez; Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts or Siya Kolisi, Francois Louw, Flip van der Merwe, Bakkies Botha, Frans Malherbe, Adriaan Strauss, Gurthro Steenkamp. Reserves: Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Coenie Oosthuizen, Eben Etzebeth, Marcell Coetzee, Ruan Pienaar, Morne Steyn, JJ Engelbrecht.