Despite a demoralising 26-24 defeat to Argentina in Salta at the weekend, Bok coach Allister Coetzee refused to make wholesale changes to his group of players for the two-week trip Down Under.
The only change is injury-enforced, with Mvovo coming in for Ruan Combrinck, who fractured his fibula in Salta and will be out for between four and six weeks. The Lions star stated on Twitter that he won’t require an operation, which was “great news. Great mental challenge awaits. Thanx for the unwavering support legends”.
Mvovo, though, had a nightmare outing in the second Test against Ireland in June after he was one of the better players in the opener at Newlands, and remains to be seen whether he will given another playing opportunity.
It is rather more likely that Hougaard, who is equally at home at scrumhalf and wing, could get a look-in out wide at No 11, with Bryan Habana easily capable of shifting over to the right.
Hougaard was part of the squad against Argentina, but was unable to play due to a knee issue picked up while on Olympic duty with the Springbok Sevens team in Rio. His versatility could be a crucial part of the Bok attack going forward.
But there’s a potential dilemma at flyhalf. Elton Jantjies has been cleared to tour, but is nursing a “deep bruise” to a thigh, which forced him off the field in Salta, with Morné Steyn coming on with half-an-hour to go.
SA Rugby said in a statement on Tuesday that a decision on Jantjies’ fitness “will only be made next week”. Steyn and Johan Goosen are the only other recognised flyhalves in the squad, so there must be a good chance of Jantjies being ready.
“Losing Ruan is a setback for us, but injuries are part of the game and it’s good for us to be able to call on experienced players such as Lwazi and Francois,” Coetzee said.
“We are not happy with where we find ourselves after the first two matches of the campaign. Australia will pose an even tougher challenge, and it is important that we deliver a much-improved performance in Brisbane.”
The Boks will get together in Johannesburg on Thursday morning and leave the same evening for Australia, where they will face the Wallabies in Brisbane on September 10, followed by the All Blacks a week later in Christchurch.
Lourens Adriaanse, Damian de Allende, Lood de Jager, Juan de Jongh, Faf de Klerk, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Johan Goosen, Bryan Habana, Francois Hougaard, Elton Jantjies, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Jaco Kriel, Jesse Kriel, Francois Louw, Lionel Mapoe, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Oupa Mohoje, Franco Mostert, Tendai Mtawarira, Lwazi Mvovo, Trevor Nyakane, Rudy Paige, Morné Steyn, Adriaan Strauss, Warren Whiteley.
Original source: Hougaard, Mvovo back in Springbok squad