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Cornal Hendricks set for Boks debut against World XV

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Cheetahs flyer Cornal Hendricks will debut for the Springboks.

Cheetahs flyer Cornal Hendricks will debut for the Springboks. Photo: Getty Images

CAPE TOWN: Sevens star Cornal Hendricks will take his first bow as wing for the Springboks when South Africa play the World XV in Cape Town on Saturday.

Interim captain Victor Matfield will also reunite with fellow second-row veteran Bakkies Botha after both were named Wednesday in the team for season's opening game.

The 26-year-old Hendricks, named his country's top sevens player last year, is the only addition to a team keeping old experience.

"It's a positive to have this kind of continuity in our first start of the year," said Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer.

"Cornal is a player I've been following for some time and I thought he made a very good transition from sevens to the 15-man code earlier this year," added Meyer.

"He's big and very fast, and hopefully we'll be able to provide him with some space to attack in."

Matfield, 37, will return from retirement to international rugby after he was named interim captain Tuesday.

He will join fellow lock Botha for the first time in three years this Saturday.

"If anyone told me two years ago that Victor and Bakkies would play together again for the Boks, I probably wouldn't have believed it," said Meyer.

"They have been great servants of the game in South Africa and now have the opportunity to take it further."

Matfield will also lead the Springboks in two tests against Wales and another against Scotland this month.

He replaces injured regular captain Jean de Villiers.

Flanker Schalk Burger will also make a comeback for the national side for the first time in two and a half years after several injuries hampered his return.

"We're expecting a stern test on Saturday against the World XV and our mindset is to make our nation proud," said Meyer.

"It will also be a good way to start the season before our first Test next week against Wales, but for now we're only focused on the World XV and playing well."

Team (15-1): Willie le Roux; Cornal Hendricks, JP Pietersen, Frans Steyn, Bryan Habana; Morne Steyn, Ruan Pienaar; Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw; Victor Matfield (capt), Bakkies Botha; Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: Schalk Brits, Gurthro Steenkamp, Coenie Oosthuizen, Flip van der Merwe, Schalk Burger, Fourie du Preez, Johan Goosen, Lwazi Mvovo.

AFP

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