South Africa recall Andre Esterhuizen in sweeping changes for second Test against Wales

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Andre Esterhuizen has been in fine form since he moved to Harlequins - GETTY IMAGES
Andre Esterhuizen has been in fine form since he moved to Harlequins - GETTY IMAGES

Andre Esterhuizen will win his first cap for South Africa in nearly three years when the Springboks face Wales in Bloemfontein on Saturday as Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber makes 14 changes.

Esterhuizen has thrived in England since joining Harlequins, winning the RPA Players' Player of the Year award this season and lifting the Gallagher Premiership title last year, but has found his opportunities with South Africa limited by the presence of Damian de Allende.

However, with De Allende rested along with a number of other front-line Springboks for Saturday's Test against Wales, Esterhuizen will now win a well overdue ninth cap for his country.

Despite a narrow 32-29 win in the first Test in Pretoria, Nienaber has opted to heavily chop and change his side.

Handre Pollard returns at fly-half and captains the world champions in the absence of Siya Kolisi, while Pieter-Steph du Toit also returns after injury. Aside from the Eben Etzebeth starting at lock there are no other survivors from the first Test, with a debut for in-form Stormers No 8 Evan Roos.

An entirely new backline also features another in debutant in Bulls wing Kurt-Lee Arendse, with a further four uncapped players on the bench in prop Ntuthuko Mchunu, lock Ruan Nortje, back-row Deon Fourie at the age of 35 and also scrum-half Grant Williams.

While South Africa's selection remains strong, the prospect of taking on a Springboks side which doesn't include Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, De Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Faf de Klerk, Kolisi, Franco Mostert, Lood de Jager, Frans Malherbe and Bongi Mbonambi will give Wales a real boost as they chase a first-ever win over the Springboks in South Africa.

Citing the need to blood more players ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup, Nienaber said:  “We said from the outset that we needed to strike a balance between giving our talented young players an opportunity to show what they can do at international level, and winning.

“If one looks at the balance between players who have played at this level and those who have performed consistently well for their franchises and clubs, I think we have a nice balance in this squad.

“Wales will certainly gain confidence from their performance last week, and I have no doubt they will feel aggrieved by the fact that they lost out so narrowly, so we know we have to produce a top-class performance to win this weekend."