Could be strong Sharks flavour in Bok team if Div rests senior players

2010-11-16 00:00

THERE could be a strong Sharks flavour to the Springbok team to face Scotland in the rugby international at Murrayfield in Edinburgh on Saturday.

Coach Peter de Villiers is due to announce his 22-man squad today and it is expected that a number of over-played senior players will be given a week off ahead of the tough Test against England at Twickenham the following weekend.

Sharks players could benefit. One, wing Lwazi Mvovo, seems certain to make his debut in place of Bjorn Basson who has returned home with a sore ankle and — along with hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle — facing doping allegations.

It is also expected that flank Willem Alberts, who has grabbed the headlines with his powerful display after replacing Deon Stegmann in the second half against Wales, will start on the side of the scrum.

Indeed, De Villiers could field the highly successful all-Sharks loose trio if he rests the in-form Pierre Spies and Juan Smith and names a backrow of Ryan Kankowski, Alberts and Keegan Daniel.

While De Villiers, and the Boks, will be wary of taking the Scottish challenge too lightly, particularly after their thumping 49-3 weekend defeat by the All Blacks, the coach also has the chance to start with young Pat Lambie at flyhalf.

Lambie is perfectly suited to the ball-in-hand approach if the Boks do want to express themselves more on attack, and he and Francois Hougaard would make for a lively halfback combination.

The Bok coaching staff may also want to rest inside centre Jean de Villiers, who has struggled on tour with a groin strain, and they could move Frans Steyn from 13 to 12 and perhaps provide Adi Jacobs with a run at outside centre.

There has also been speculation that Victor Matfield, the Springbok’s busiest player, may be rested for Sharks lock Alistair Hargreaves, but De Villiers will be reluctant to omit too many of his senior players against a Scottish team who can be dangerous opponents when the mood grabs them.

The Scots, battered mentally and physically by the All Blacks, have injury problems ahead of Saturday’s Test with captain Mike Blair doubtful after leaving the field with concussion.

Rory Lamont, Hugo Southwell, Richie Grey, John Barclay and Alasdair Dickinson all face fitness tests this week.

Meanwhile, controversial Bok lock Bakkies Botha has been back in the news this week, but for all the right reasons.

Botha, who was suspended for nine weeks for a head-butt during the Tri-Nations, said he was surprised that All Black hooker Keven Mealamu had his suspension for a similar offence reduced from four to two weeks.

Botha says he has turned over a new leaf and did not react when antagonised by the Welsh on Saturday.

“I am just not going to fall for that trick again,” Botha told reporters.

“I got elbows and knees and plenty of chirps in the rucks, but that just made me play harder.

“It’s about channeling my aggression in the right direction for me now. I have learned to relax and not to try too hard because over-eagerness has been my downfall in the past,” he added.

Saturday’s Test against Scotland kicks off at 4.30 pm and Australian referee Stuart Dickinson will be in charge.

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