This follows the surprise omission of veteran scrumhalf Fourie du Preez, who had been widely tipped to captain the side.
“I have a lot of respect for Fourie, but he knows my motto is team first and I had a few meetings with him and he said he wasn’t 100% sure he’s at his best, having not played for two-and-a-half months. It was a hard decision to leave him out, but it shows the character of the man that he told me to go with the youngsters if I felt he was a 50/50 selection,” Meyer told a news conference.
“So I will chat to the senior players before naming my captain, probably at the team announcement on Wednesday, but maybe before.”
The nine uncapped players are loose forwards Marcell Coetzee and Jacques Potgieter, utility back JJ Engelbrecht, locks Eben Etzebeth, Juandre Kruger and Franco van der Merwe, flyhalf Elton Jantjies, prop Coenie Oosthuizen and scrumhalf Jano Vermaak.
Wings Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen, centres Jean de Villiers, Frans Steyn and Wynand Olivier, scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar, prop Jannie du Plessis and hooker Bismarck du Plessis are the returning members of the Springboks’ 2007 World Cup-winning squad, while 15 members of the squad also played in last year’s World Cup.
“This is a team that can play winning test rugby – brutal defence, big forwards running at each other, tactical kicking and direct rugby. This team can play to our typical South African strengths and the side that plays best to their pattern is normally the one that wins.
“I wanted to start the season with an experienced squad to face England, who are a good, tough side, but injuries have made this difficult,” Meyer said.
Loose forwards Schalk Burger, Duane Vermeulen and Juan Smith, and lock Andries Bekker were ruled out due to injury.
The coach said the surprise omission of flank Heinrich Brussow, one of the foremost ball-chasers in the game, follows the new law interpretations that have caused fetchers to concede more penalties.
“That was a tough call because Heinrich is still up with the best opensides in the game, but the game has changed. They’re being penalised more and hookers are stealing more ball now. If the laws change, which they will, then he’ll definitely be in the mix. But at the moment it’s up to him to adapt to the laws,” Meyer said.
Bulls centre JJ Engelbrecht, who is playing his first full season of SuperRugby, is an unexpected inclusion ahead of exciting Stormers backs Gio Aplon and Juan de Jongh, who were both members of the Springboks’ 2011 World Cup squad.
“Obviously I can’t please everybody, but JJ is an exciting guy for the future and I want time to work with him. He’s already an awesome winger and I believe he can develop into a world-class number 13,” Meyer said.
Meyer’s selection of just three players from the Stormers – who are top of the South African SuperRugby conference – has caused displeasure in Cape Town, with the former Bulls coach naming 13 Bulls and 10 Sharks players in his squad.
There are also two overseas-based players in the squad – Pienaar of Ulster and Frans Steyn, who has just signed with the Sharks (but has yet to play a game for them) after a three-year stint in France with Racing Metro.
South Africa play England in the first test in Durban next Saturday, followed by matches in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth.
Squad – Zane Kirchner (Bulls), Pat Lambie (Sharks), Bjorn Basson (Bulls), Bryan Habana (Stormers), Lwazi Mvovo (Sharks), JP Pietersen (Sharks), Jean de Villiers (Stormers), JJ Engelbrecht (Bulls), Frans Steyn (Racing Metro), Wynand Olivier (Bulls), Morne Steyn (Bulls), Elton Jantjies (Lions), Francois Hougaard (Bulls), Ruan Pienaar (Ulster), Jano Vermaak (Bulls), Pierre Spies (Bulls), Ryan Kankowski (Sharks), Willem Alberts (Sharks), Jacques Potgieter (Bulls), Marcell Coetzee (Sharks), Keegan Daniel (Sharks), Juandre Kruger (Bulls), Franco van der Merwe (Lions), Flip van der Merwe (Bulls), Eben Etzebeth (Stormers), Jannie du Plessis (Sharks), Werner Kruger (Bulls), Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks), Adriaan Strauss (Cheetahs), Chiliboy Ralepelle (Bulls), Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks), Coenie Oosthuizen (Cheetahs).