South Africa selected flanker Rynhardt Elstadt and halfback Herschel Jantjies to make their debuts in the Rugby Championship test against Australia on Sunday as a group of first-choice players travelled ahead to prepare for the away game against New Zealand.

Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus split his squad into two groups, hoping to prepare better for the world champion All Blacks and manage fatigue ahead of the Rugby World Cup in September.

In the absence of injured captain Siya Kolisi, lock Eben Etzebeth was named to lead South Africa against the Wallabies at Ellis Park.

South Africa's team has players needing game time after injury and others on the fringes of the World Cup squad. Etzebeth and lock partner Lood de Jager are returning from injuries. Elton Jantjies starts at first-five in place of first choice Handre Pollard.

Herschel Jantjies will debut for S Africa against Australia. Photo / Getty Images
Herschel Jantjies will debut for S Africa against Australia. Photo / Getty Images

Ireland-based loose forward Marcel Coetzee is on the bench and in line to play his first test since 2015. Utility back Frans Steyn is also among the reserves, as is uncapped prop Lizo Gqoboka.

South Africa have six players in the 23 for the Australia game who play overseas, indicating Erasmus will cast his net wide in an effort to find the right combinations for the World Cup in Japan. They are Elstadt, No 8 Francois Louw, and reserves Vincent Koch, Cobus Reinach, Coetzee and Steyn.

Australia's preparations have been upset with three players returning home with injuries and winger Marika Koroibete released for family reasons.

James O'Connor could return to Australia's test team after a six-year absence. The utility back's international career was stalled by a series of off-field disciplinary issues but he's returned to Australia after spells in Britain and France and is with the Wallabies squad in South Africa.