Boks pick Butch for Italy Test

2010-06-16 00:00

BUTCH James returns to the Springbok team after a break of two years when he turns out at inside centre in the first of two Tests against Italy in Witbank on Saturday.

James, now based in Bath, was chosen to play against Wales at the start of the month, but was forced out by a petty club contractual dispute. However, yesterday Bok coach Peter de Villiers included him in one of six changes to the team which started against France in Cape Town at the weekend.

James was selected in midfield with Jean de Villiers, another Springbok who has been campaigning overseas, at outside centre.

De Villiers said he wants to test James’s versatility and will move the former Shark back to flyhalf in the second half.

“This is a good chance to see whether he can play in more than one position ahead of the World Cup,” said the Bok coach.

The inclusion of James and De Villiers in the midfield are the only changes to the backline, but there are four more in the pack.

Bulls flank Dewald Potgieter replaces Francois Louw, Bakkies Botha is back from suspension and is at lock in place of Danie Rossouw, while tighthead Jannie du Plessis and hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle have taken over from BJ Botha and John Smit in the front row.

Surprisingly, flank Schalk Burger, who has not practised this week because of a sore ankle, was included.

De Villiers said he wants to see how Potgieter, starting in his second Test, operates alongside Burger and Pierre Spies as a loose trio.

“We thought it would be fair on Potgieter to play in a settled loose trio so he has the best chance to prove himself.”

Francois Louw, who impressed against the French, will take Burger’s place if the Stormers captain is forced to withdraw.

De Villiers said Ruan Pienaar is likely to play at scrumhalf in the second half, adding that the Shark could start in the second Test in East London next weekend.

“I want to give Ricky Januarie every opportunity to find his feet after playing in Fourie du Preez’s shadow for so long,” said De Villiers.

He also admitted that veteran lock Victor Matfield, who has taken over from Smit as captain, has been over-played and will almost certainly be rested next weekend.

Bandise Maku, CJ van der Linde, Alistair Hargreaves, Ryan Kankowski, among the forwards, and wing Bjorn Basson, who were all sidelined for the French Test, are on the bench.

The Italians arrived in Witbank yesterday and coach Nick Mallett said his forwards are hoping to place the Boks under pressure in the scrum.

English referee Andrew Small will handle the Test, which kicks off at 3pm on Saturday.

Springbok team:

15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Jean de Villiers, 12 Butch James, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp.

Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Alistair Hargreaves, 19 Ryan Kankowski, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Juan de Jongh, 22 Bjorn Basson.

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