Heyneke Meyer dumps Bismarck du Plessis, recalls Victor Matfield

2014-09-03 09:30

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Melbourne – South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer has shaken up his pack for Saturday’s Rugby Championship test against Australia in Perth, benching hooker Bismarck du Plessis and restoring Victor Matfield to the second row.

Adriaan Strauss will start at hooker alongside promoted prop Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira in a revamped front row as the Springboks look to overcome the scrum problems that dogged them in two tight victories over Argentina.

Matfield returns after missing the first two matches of the southern hemisphere tournament through injury, replacing young lock Lood de Jager, while Morné Steyn starts at flyhalf in place of Handré Pollard.

In other changes to the starting side named today, Marcell Coetzee comes off the bench to replace openside flanker Juan Smith with Jan Serfontein dislodging Damian de Allende at outside centre.

Props Trevor Nyakane and Marcel van der Merwe, and utility back Pat Lambie join uncapped Warren Whiteley, captain of the Johannesburg-based Super Rugby team the Lions, on the bench.

“We were always planning on moving our personnel around during the competition,” Meyer said.

“The only new player in the team is Warren, who I’m very happy for and excited to see what he can do. He covers all three positions in the loose trio and can make an impact later in the game.

“Saturday’s test against Australia will take a massive effort from every member of our squad. We’re not looking at their recent result against New Zealand and we know they will be a tough opponent.”

Australia were crushed 51-20 by the All Blacks at Eden Park in their last match and South Africa will fancy their chances of continuing the hosts’ winless start to the tournament at Perth’s Subiaco Oval, where the Springboks have won four times and drawn once in nine matches since 1998.

Bryan Habana will also hope to crown his 100th test match with a win and Meyer paid tribute to the veteran winger, the International Rugby Board player of the year in 2007.

“Apart from scoring tries and always giving 100% on the field, Bryan is also a humble servant to the game and a true ambassador for his family, his friends and his country,” Meyer said.

“He will go down in history as one of the greatest rugby players of all time.”

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