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Matfield handed captain's armband

Victor Matfield has been named captain for South Africa's year-end Grand Slam tour, which starts in Dublin next month.

The Bulls lock, who has more than 100 caps for the Springboks, will lead the side in the absence of John Smit, who was ruled out last month after undergoing surgery to correct a chronic cervical disc.

"With John Smit being injured and unavailable for such a challenging and important tour we obviously needed Victor's leadership qualities," said coach Peter de Villiers.

"He has filled the role in the past with distinction and has led the Vodacom Bulls and Blue Bulls to a string of titles and has been Springbok vice-captain for a number of years.

"We're aware of his workload this season and we'll manage him accordingly."

De Villiers assembled with his preliminary training squad in Johannesburg on Friday ahead of the trip that starts with Ireland on November 6 and also takes in Tests against Wales, Scotland and England and the Barbarians at Twickenham.

Cheetahs skipper Juan Smith, who has 65 international caps, was named as vice-captain.

Seven players - forwards Danie Rossouw, Jannie du Plessis, Alistair Hargreaves, Willem Alberts, Bismarck du Plessis and Schalk Burger along with midfielder Juan de Jongh - missed Friday's opening session due to injury niggles.

The world champions have been beset by injuries in the build-up with JP Pietersen, Jaque Fourie, Wynand Olivier, Smit, Gurthro Steenkamp, Gary Botha, Fourie du Preez, Andries Bekker and Heinrich Brussow all ruled out.

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