Boks not risking Pienaar

2009-07-29 00:00

SPRINGBOK coach Peter de Villiers yesterday made just one change and named an entirely predictable starting line-up for Saturday’s second Tri-Nations Test against the All Blacks at King’s Park.

The national selectors have decided not to risk Sharks flyhalf Ruan Pienaar, who turned an ankle late in the first half of the Bloemfontein Test at the weekend, and have named ace goalkicker Morné Steyn as his replacement.

De Villiers has also sensibly decided to stay with his experienced and solid midfield pairing of Jean de Villiers and Jaque Fourie with Adi Jacobs, returning from injury, included on the bench in place of Steyn.

Another player back to full fitness, tall lock Andries Bekker, is also named among the replacements and he takes over from Ryan Kankowski, who has been released to the Sharks for the weekend’s Currie Cup game against Free State.

The decision to not even include Pienaar on the bench has resulted in the one curious selection with De Villiers fielding two centres (Jacobs and Wynand Olivier) among the reserves. This leaves the Boks without specialist cover for flyhalf, wing and fullback.

“We’ve always known there would be injuries at some stage and sadly for Ruan he’s been ruled out. But he will be back soon and it’s no use crying over spilt milk,” said De Villiers.

“Morné is a very good rugby player and a match-winner. He’s shown that for the Bulls and the Boks and I’m not complaining.”

Springbok captain John Smit agreed and said that Steyn’s composure, on and off the field, has been remarkable.

De Villiers, referring to his selection in midfield, said that he “didn’t want to make changes just for the sake of making changes.”

The Bok coach paid tribute to Smit who will become world rugby’s most capped captain (60 Tests) on Saturday.

“He is everything you can possible want in a captain, a legend, an ambassador, an honest player and someone who brings so much to the team,” said De Villiers.

Smit said there were “more important things to worry about on Saturday” than his own personal record.

“The All Blacks will bring more to the Test because they will be better-prepared. They are coming to a familiar venue [King’s Park] and they have had an extra week to prepare. They’ll be far better equipped for the challenge,” Smit said.

All Black coach Graham Henry has meanwhile recalled scrumhalf Jimmy Cowan for the Test in a team that shows two changes.

All Blacks prop Owen Franks gets his first start in his fourth Test, coming in for tighthead prop Neemia Tialata, who sprained his right knee last weekend, while Cowan replaces Brendon Leonard at scrumhalf.

Henry said he found positives in the 28-19 Bloemfontein loss.

“I said that last week’s Test in Bloemfontein would be a massive challenge and this weekend’s Test in Durban is no different.

“But this team has a lot of character and resolve and we are approaching it in a positive frame of mind.”

Henry said Franks would add a hard edge to the All Black pack against the Springbok forwards.

“The bigger the challenge, the more excited he gets. Owen has shown he can stand up for himself, he’s got an edge to him, he rates himself, which is very important at this level, and he’ll be up for the contest.”

Henry said Cowan would also bring a greater physical presence against a South African side that at times threatened to overwhelm the All Blacks in Bloemfontein.

“Jimmy is big, powerful and physical, a good defender, which is all important if your scrum does not have the edge. He can also kick well and he’s been there and done it a lot of times. He has the experience, he knows what’s required.”

The All Blacks have won their last two Tests against the Springboks at King’s Park — 30-23 in 2002 and 26-21 in 2007.

Welsh referee Nigel Owens will handle the Test, which kicks off at 5 pm. Thousands of tickets are still available for the Test.

TEAMS

Springboks

15 Frans Steyn, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Juan Smith, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 John Smit (c), 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Jannie du Plessis, 18 Danie Rossouw, 19 Andries Bekker, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Adi Jacobs, 22 Wynand Olivier.

All Blacks

15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Rodney So’oialo, 7 Richie McCaw, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Isaac Ross, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock.

Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 John Afoa, 18 Jason Eaton, 19 Kieran Read, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Luke McAlister, 22 Cory Jane.

Kick-off: 5 pm.

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