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De Villiers backs new-look Boks

Peter de Villiers admitted he had little choice when selecting his South Africa team for their Grand Slam tour opener against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.

The Springbok coach included uncapped flanker Deon Stegmann in his starting XV, while rising young star Patrick Lambie, 20, could also play his first game if centre Jean de Villiers fails a late fitness test.

"It's a new-look side but with 13 season-ending injuries it couldn't be anything else," De Villiers said. "But we're looking on the positive side and this is a great opportunity to test some new players in the toughest conditions."

He added: "We also have a number of senior players returning to the team after long lay-offs for one reason or another and they are keen to re-stake their claim to a starting place.

"We've not had much time to bed this new team together but the players have worked hard all week to be as well prepared as we possibly can be."

Sharks back Lambie, who has played full-back, fly-half and centre this season, was named man of the match in the Currie Cup final over the weekend with his 25-point haul helping his team beat Western Province 30-10.

Two further uncapped players were named among the replacements. Loose forward Willem Alberts is struggling with a calf problem with Keegan Daniel waiting in the wings.

Bulls forward Stegmann, 24, was only added to the squad this week after Schalk Burger withdrew because of a broken rib he sustained in Currie Cup final.

In total, the team shows eight changes to the one which last played against Australia during the Tri Nations, with Victor Matfield captaining the world champions in the absence of injured John Smit.

Props Tendai Mtawarira and Bismarck du Plessis will make their first appearances of the season, while lock Bakkies Botha returns after suspension.

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