De Villiers overlooks in-form Pienaar

2010-06-09 00:00

THE selection of the chunky Ricky Januarie ahead of Ruan Pienaar at scrumhalf is Springbok coach Peter de Villiers’s most contentious selection for the Test against France at Newlands on Saturday.

Pienaar, who was the Sharks’ only consistent backline performer in the Super 14 after being shifted back to scrumhalf, was widely expected to take over from Springbok Fourie du Preez, who underwent shoulder surgery this week.

But Januarie, the Stormers’ second-choice scrumhalf, but long a favourite of De Villiers, was yesterday named as Du Preez’s successor while Pienaar will cover both halfback positions from the bench.

De Villiers said that South Africa is “blessed to have so many scrumhalf options”.

“It’s the toughest part of my job trying to get the combinations right and, hopefully, I’ve made the right call with Ricky.”

Once De Villiers dropped the overseas-based Frans Steyn from the international squad, but included Ulster tighthead BJ Botha, the rest of the starting line-up chose itself, though he was no doubt tempted to play young centre Juan de Jongh in place of the experienced Wynand Olivier at inside centre.

Big Stormers flank Francois Louw will take over from the unavailable Juan Smith and Gurthrö Steenkamp was named at loosehead in the absence of the banished Beast Mtawarira.

It was not a good day for the Sharks players in the 27-man squad. BJ Botha, the only overseas-based player in the starting line-up, beat off the challenge of Sharks tighthead Jannie du Plessis, named as one of the replacements, while number eight Ryan Kankowski and lock Alistair Hargreaves are shouldered off the bench by the Bulls’ Dewald Potgieter and new cap Flip van der Merwe. Captain John Smit is the only Sharks player in the starting line-up, which has rewarded the outstanding form of the Stormers and Bulls in the Super 14.

There will also be questions asked of the balance of the bench, with two inside centres (Jean de Villiers and Juan de Jongh) included among the three backline reserves, but no specialist cover for wing and fullback.

De Villiers was critical of the Super 14 coaches at the Bulls and the Stormers for the way they handled the injured Fourie du Preez and Andries Bekker.

“If I’m ever so self-centred that I let a player play one game too many for the sake of winning the game, I hope I’m called to order.

“We really needed Fourie for this week’s Test. One week of his life can impact on the rest of his career. The Super 14 is very tough and there are players with injuries that require painkillers. That is a worry for me.”

France coach Marc Lievremont yesterday selected Biarritz flank Wenceslas Lauret to make his debut against the Springboks.

Lievremont said Lauret’s presence would help to contain the intensity that the South African loose forwards bring to the match.

Kickoff is at 2 pm and New Zealander Bryce Lawrence will referee the Test.

TEAMS:

SPRINGBOKS:

15. Zane Kirchner, 14. Gio Aplon, 13. Jaque Fourie, 12. Wynand Olivier, 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Ricky Januarie, 8. Pierre Spies, 7. Francois Louw, 6. Schalk Burger, 5. Victor Matfied, 4. Danie Rossouw, 3. BJ Botha, 2. John Smit (c), 1. Gurthrö Steenkamp. Replacements: 16. Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17. Jannie du Plessis, 18. Flip van der Merwe, 19. Dewald Potgieter, 20. Ruan Pienaar, 21. Juan de Jongh, 22. Jean de Villiers

FRANCE:

15. Clement Poitrenaud, 14. Vincent Clerc, 13. David Marty, 12. Maxime Mermoz 11. Aurelien Rougerie, 10. Francois Trinh-Duc, 9. Morgan Parra, 8. Julien Bonnaire, 7. Wenceslas Lauret, 6. Thierry Dusautoir (c), 5. Romain Millo-Chluski, 4. Lionel Nallet, 3. Nicolas Mas 2. Dimitri Szarzewski,, 1. Thomas Domingo. Replacements: 16. Guilhem Guirado, 17. Jean-Baptiste Poux, 18. Julien Pierre, 19. Louis Picamoles, 20. Dimitri Yachvili, 21. David Skrela, 22. Marc Andreu

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