Boks’ ‘Samson’ back into starting line-up

2009-06-24 00:00

FLANK Schalk Burger, who has battled form and fitness this season, has been rushed back into the Springbok team for the second Test against the British Lions at Loftus on Saturday.

Burger has been troubled by a torn calf muscle and has seen little action for the past two months, but yesterday Bok coach Peter de Villiers selected him in place of Heinrich Brüssow in the only change to the starting line-up.

Burger will make his 50th Test appearance for the Springboks, but it had been expected that Brüssow would keep his place with Burger starting off the bench.

Burger, fit and flourishing, is one of the leading flanks in world rugby, but he has had a disappointing season for the Stormers and, like Samson, his power seemed to disappear when he lost his flowing locks.

It was expected that De Villiers might shore up his midfield defence by replacing Adi Jacobs, who has been nursing a shoulder injury, with the powerful Jaque Fourie. The Lions midfield pairing of Jamie Roberts and Brian O’Driscoll made a meal of the Bok centres in Durban, but De Villiers said that poor communication was to blame and he was satisfied Jacobs and de Villiers would do the job on Saturday.

The only other changes are on the bench, where De Villiers has opted for five forwards and two backs.

A shaky Ricky Januarie has been dropped and Ruan Pienaar will now cover Fourie du Preez at scrumhalf. The only other change is on the bench where hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle replaces prop Gurthrö Steenkamp.

This leaves the Boks with a worrying imbalance among the forward replacements with three players able to play hooker, Bismarck du Plessis, John Smit and Ralepelle, but only one reserve prop (Deon Carstens).

De Villiers also named two loose forwards on the bench (Danie Rossouw and Brüssow) with Andries Bekker the reserve lock.

De Villiers said he was happy with the selections.

“We believe in the abilities of our players and we are confident that they will take things up a few notches on Saturday.

“We know that we will be faced by a Lions team that will be playing to level the Test Series and will provide us with a stern test.”

Burger said he was delighted to be back in the mix after missing the Durban Test.

“It’s a great privilege to play a Lions Test match,” Burger said.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, hopefully I will have a good performance.” He said he had almost been fit for the first Test.

“What was frustrating for me was that I flew friends, family and my girlfriend to Durban and now I will have to do it again this weekend.”

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