UPDATE 1-Rugby-Vermeulen given Springbok debut against Australia

Reuters Middle East

* Vermeulen comes in at number eight for Perth test

* Meyer makes changes after Argentina draw

(Adds quotes, details)

Sept 5 (Reuters) - South African number eight Duane

Vermeulen will make his test debut in Saturday's Rugby

Championship clash with Australia in Perth after being named in

the Springbok side on Wednesday.

Under-fire coach Heyneke Meyer has brought in three new

players and made two positional changes to the side that were

held to a 16-16 draw in Argentina in their last outing In the

southern hemisphere's new international competition.

In addition to the powerful Vermeulen, Meyer has named Ruan

Pienaar at scrumhalf, while Juandre Kruger replaces the dropped

Andries Bekker at lock.

Pacy back Francois Hougaard goes out to the wing to allow

Pienaar to start at halfback, while Willem Alberts moves to

flanker to make room for Vermeulen at the back of the scrum.

"We've decided to put Duane straight into the starting team

because he is a classic number eight, a position we've lacked in

since Pierre Spies got injured and Ryan Kankowski moved to

Japan," Meyer said.

"I've always admired the way Duane plays rugby and he's

fitted in very well the past week. He would've been a Springbok

years ago if it had not been for injuries and it's great to

finally see him selected."

With Morne Steyn retaining the flyhalf spot and no

specialist openside flanker in the starting line-up, there is no

indication the Springboks will change their tactics of trying to

outmuscle the opposition up front and kick for territory.

Meyer has given himself options on the bench, however, where

20-year-old livewire flyhalf Johan Goosen will be itching to get

on to the pitch for his test debut.

"(Johan) in my mind can become one of the great flyhalves in

world rugby," said Meyer. "I've been very impressed with his

work ethic and attitude since he joined the squad on Thursday in

Johannesburg and we will keep on managing him carefully over the

next few weeks."

Ball-poaching flanker Francois Louw was also named among the

replacements having been called up from English club Bath for

the tour of Australia and New Zealand.

"By including Francois on the bench, we have a specialist

opensider, but also a versatile loose forward that brings a bit

more balance to our back row mix," Meyer added.

Adriaan Strauss was named in the side at hooker despite

concerns over a "mild" knee ligament injury and he will be

monitored in training for the rest of the week with Tiaan

Liebenberg on standby to win his second cap.

The Springboks will be looking to end a run of four defeats

against Australia, which includes the quarter-final loss at last

year's World Cup in New Zealand.

Team: 15-Zane Kirchner, 14-Bryan Habana, 13-Jean de Villiers

(captain), 12-Francois Steyn, 11-Francois Hougaard, 10-Morne

Steyn, 9-Ruan Pienaar, 8-Duane Vermeulen, 7-Willem Alberts,

6-Marcell Coetzee, 5-Juandre Kruger, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Jannie

du Plessis, 2-Adriaan Strauss, 1-Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16-Tiaan Liebenberg, 17-Pat Cilliers, 18-Flip

van der Merwe, 19-Francois Louw, 20-Johan Goosen, 21-Patrick

Lambie, 22-Lwazi Mvovo.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Patrick Johnston)

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