Johannesburg: Jean de Villiers continues his amazing recovery from a career-threatening injury when he leads South Africa against Argentina on Saturday in the Rugby Championship.
The 34-year-old centre had a knee reconstructed after a horrific injury in Wales last November and played off the bench for the Springboks in an exhibition match last month.
He continued his comeback with two appearances for his province while South Africa suffered narrow southern hemisphere championship losses to Australia and world champions New Zealand.
Coach Heyneke Meyer got a thumbs-up from team doctors this week regarding De Villiers and chose him to partner Damian de Allende at centre for the Kings Park stadium Test against the Pumas in Durban.
De Villiers starts at outside centre rather than his traditional inside centre slot, but that will not matter to a star desperate to prove his fitness ahead of the mid-September Rugby World Cup kick-off.
“The comeback of Jean is truly remarkable and very inspirational,” Meyer told the media after announcing his team in the Indian Ocean city of Durban.
“I cannot wait to see what he has to offer playing next to youngsters like Damian, Jesse Kriel and Handre Pollard.
“Jean now has 160 minutes of rugby behind him since his comeback a month ago and I am satisfied that he will be able to make his mark as a player and captain.”
The matchday 23 for the clash with the Pumas shows eight changes – seven personnel and one positional – to that which lost 27-20 to New Zealand in Johannesburg two Saturdays ago.
De Villiers, tighthead prop Vincent Koch and flanker Marcell Coetzee come into the team for winger Cornal Hendricks and an injured duo, prop Jannie du Plessis and loose forward Francois Louw.
Pumas coach Daniel Hourcade will announce his starting line-up and replacements late today.