Bakkies looks set to replace Etzebeth for Scotland showdown

2013-11-12 00:00

SPRINGBOK coach Heyneke Meyer is expected to mix and match in making his selections for Sunday’s Test against Scotland at Murrayfield. Veteran lock Bakkies Botha and Sharks flyhalf Pat Lambie are expected to start in just two of the changes.

The 34-year-old Botha, who now plays for French club Toulon, seems certain to take over from Eben Etzebeth. Lambie, who took over from the injured Morné Steyn after the first quarter against Wales on Saturday, is likely to finally start at flyhalf on Sunday.

Meyer told reporters that he was keen for Botha to return after his two-year break from Test rugby.

“There is a good chance that Bakkies will start. We want to see what he can do for us. He’s been very influential since he joined the squad. You could see how guys like Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit look up to him,” said Meyer.

Continuity in selection has been a feature of Meyer’s tenure as Springbok coach but he wants to see how a number of his players perform in European conditions ahead of the 2105 Rugby World Cup in England.

With the Scotland international being played on Sunday, he also wants to rest key players ahead of the tough Test against France just six days later.

“We’ll have to think long and hard about the team. The priority is obviously to win and there’s also the issue of having to manage players.

“We’ll have to take calculated risks. Not only to make sure that the players are 100% for the game against Scotland, but also for the game against France.

“The plan will be worked out in detail. But the team must be strong enough to beat Scotland.”

Morné Steyn remains the only injury concern, team doctor Craig Roberts said yesterday.

The flyhalf picked up a back spasm during the warm-up before South Africa’s 24-15 victory over Wales.

“We were monitoring him during the game and he was struggling to kick and run, so we made the call to take him off,” Roberts said in an audio link from Edinburgh yesterday.

“Clinically, it looks like a facet-joint irritation, which usually takes two to three days to settle. It’s already looking much better and our physiotherapists will work hard to sort him out.

“Luckily we’ve got a long week to get him ready and we’re hoping to have him available for selection this weekend. Based on how he’s responded so far, it’s looking good.”

Assistant coach John McFarland said that it had been a “wise decision” to rush Steyn from the field.

“He was trying to kick with a stiff back on a slippery field and you could see he was struggling.”

McFarland said the Springboks were fortunate to have two quality flyhalves in Steyn and Lambie who started at fullback in Cardiff.

“Pat looked better the longer he played at flyhalf against Wales and his game management is very good.”

He said that it had taken the whole team time to settle into the Test after their five-week break from international rugby.

“There were a couple of Welsh line-breaks in the first few minutes but nothing after that,” he said, highlighting the role that Bok centre Jaque Fourie had played in organising the backline defences.

The Springbok team to face Scotland will be announced on Thursday afternoon and the Test kicks off at 5 pm (SA time). Frenchman Jerome Garces will be the referee.

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