Under-fire coach Heyneke Meyer has brought in three new players and made two positional changes to the side that were held to a 16-16 draw in Argentina in their last outing In the southern hemisphere's new international competition.
In addition to the powerful Vermeulen, Meyer has named Ruan Pienaar at scrum-half, while Juandre Kruger replaces the dropped Andries Bekker at lock.
Pacy back Francois Hougaard goes out to the wing to allow Pienaar to start at half-back, while Willem Alberts moves to flanker to make room for Vermeulen at the back of the scrum.
"We've decided to put Duane straight into the starting team because he is a classic number eight, a position we've lacked in since Pierre Spies got injured and Ryan Kankowski moved to Japan," Meyer said.
"I've always admired the way Duane plays rugby and he's fitted in very well the past week. He would've been a Springbok years ago if it had not been for injuries and it's great to finally see him selected."
With Morne Steyn retaining the fly-half spot and no specialist open-side flanker in the starting line-up, there is no indication the Springboks will change their tactics of trying to out-muscle the opposition up front and kick for territory.
Meyer has given himself options on the bench, however, where 20-year-old livewire fly-half Johan Goosen will be itching to get on to the pitch for his Test debut.
"(Johan) in my mind can become one of the great fly-halves in world rugby," said Meyer. "I've been very impressed with his work ethic and attitude since he joined the squad on Thursday in Johannesburg and we will keep on managing him carefully over the next few weeks."
Ball-poaching flanker Francois Louw was also named among the replacements having been called up from English club Bath for the tour of Australia and New Zealand.
"By including Francois on the bench, we have a specialist open-sider, but also a versatile loose forward that brings a bit more balance to our back row mix," Meyer added.
Adriaan Strauss was named in the side at hooker despite concerns over a "mild" knee ligament injury and he will be monitored in training for the rest of the week with Tiaan Liebenberg on standby to win his second cap.
Team: 15-Zane Kirchner, 14-Bryan Habana, 13-Jean de Villiers, 12-Francois Steyn, 11-Francois Hougaard, 10-Morne Steyn, 9-Ruan Pienaar, 8-Duane Vermeulen, 7-Willem Alberts, 6-Marcell Coetzee, 5-Juandre Kruger, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Jannie du Plessis, 2-Adriaan Strauss, 1-Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16-Tiaan Liebenberg, 17-Pat Cilliers, 18-Flip van der Merwe, 19-Francois Louw, 20-Johan Goosen, 21-Patrick Lambie, 22-Lwazi Mvovo.