Boks beef up the bench in light of Leicester loss

2009-11-11 00:00

SPRINGBOK coach Peter de Villiers has made four changes to a predictable starting line-up for Friday’s Test against France in Toulouse, but has beefed up his bench with five forwards.

The Springboks left for France last night and all 15 players who have spent the last week preparing in Johannesburg for the Test have kept their expected positions.

Zane Kirchner, in spite of finishing the Currie Cup quietly, has taken over from Frans Steyn at fullback and Adi Jacobs has been switched from outside to inside centre to replace Jean de Villiers. Kirchner made his debut in the third and final Test against the British & Irish Lions in July. Steyn and De Villiers are now playing club rugby in Europe.

Sharks wing JP Pietersen, injured for the closing weeks of the Tri-Nations, is back for Odwa Ndungane.

In the only change to the pack that beat the All Blacks in Hamilton to take the Tri-Nations title, number eight Ryan Kankowski gets his chance in the place of the injured Pierre Spies.

The only other regular Springbok missing is flank Juan Smith, who was a late withdrawal from the Hamilton Test, and Schalk Burger and Heinrich Brüssow will join Kankowksi in the backrow.

The French are hoping to take on and control a tired pack of Springbok forwards on Friday and the South African selectors have opted for five forwards to two backs on the bench instead of the more traditional 4:3 split.

Ruan Pienaar will cover for fullback, flyhalf and scrumhalf, while specialist centre Wynand Olivier can also play on the wing.

De Villiers, in the light of the Boks’ defeat by Leicester last Friday, is understandably concerned about the scrummaging and he has chosen a full front-row, all Free Staters, on the bench.

Tighthead CJ van der Linde, now playing club rugby in Ireland, joins loosehead Wian du Preez and hooker Adriaan Strauss among the reserves, with the lanky Andries Bekker and utility forward Danie Rossouw completing the replacements.

Strauss, who has played five Tests to date, replaces the injured Chiliboy Ralepelle at reserve hooker and Van der Linde takes the place of Jannie du Plessis (damaged hand) at tighthead.

Du Preez, who was called up along with Strauss and Van der Linde this week, is the only uncapped player in the 22.

Van der Linde, a veteran of 56 Tests, last played for the Boks in August 2008, whilst Strauss’s last appearance was in July 2008.

“The core of the match did duty during the Tri-Nations campaign and will provide us with stability going into this tough opening Test,” De Villiers said yesterday.

“There are a lot of experienced players in the starting 15, as well as on the bench, which will be important to our continuity as well as to ensuring that we maintain our structures and play the way we want to.

“I have full confidence in the new players who will be starting on Friday. They have shown their qualities before and we have to make sure we get the best out of them. The three newcomers are all good players in their own right. CJ van der Linde is very experienced, while both Adriaan Strauss and Wian du Preez have been part of the squad previously.”

Young English referee Wayne Barnes will handle what promises to be a fiery Test. Kick off is at 9.45 pm (SA time) on Friday.

Springbok team: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Adi Jacobs, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 John Smit, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 CJ van der Linde, 19 Andries Bekker, 20 Danie Rossouw, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Wynand Olivier.

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