De Villiers to face fitness test tomorrow

2013-06-20 00:00

SPRINGBOK coach Heyneke Meyer is leaving it late and will only decide tomorrow whether captain Jean de Villiers and Sharks flank Willem Alberts will play against Samoa in the final of the Incoming Series at Loftus on Saturday evening.

De Villiers, struggling with a sternum injury he picked up against Scotland in Nelspruit, has not trained this week and the Springbok centre will face a fitness test tomorrow.

Young Bulls centre Jan Serfontein is standing by to replace him, while hooker Adriaan Strauss will take over the captaincy if De Villiers is withdrawn from the Test.

Alberts, who has been nursing a side strain this month and has taken no part in the previous internationals, has been training this week but he will also be assessed tomorrow.

Meyer has beefed up his pack for what will be a bruising struggle and has made three changes to the forwards.

Flank Francois Louw, after one of the shortest honeymoons on record, returned to the Springbok squad on Monday after his Sunday wedding and he replaces Marcell Coetzee in the starting line-up.

Alberts, if passed fit, will take over from the injured Arno Botha on the other flank while Flip van der Merwe is preferred to his Bulls second-row partner Juandré Kruger at lock.

Siya Kolisi, who impressed as a substitute against Scotland, will return for Alberts if the Sharks flank fails his fitness test. Coetzee will then join the bench.

The backline will be unchanged if De Villiers is cleared to play.

“Jean [de Villiers] is an integral member of our squad and we will give him all the time he needs to get back to full fitness,” Meyer said yesterday.

“Luckily we have a strong group of leaders in the squad and if Jean doesn’t make it, Adriaan will take over the captaincy, with support provided by Francois Louw, Pierre Spies, Bryan Habana and Bismarck du Plessis.”

Meyer said that he was always going to recall Louw after his wedding break.

“Willem [Alberts] has been our first-choice ball carrier, so it’s been good to have the pair back on the training field.

“Because Willem is returning from an injury, we decided to start with him.

“Siya [Kolisi] played very well last weekend and it is great to have someone of his versatility on the bench.

“We saw last week how valuable it is to have replacement players who can make a real impact late in the match.”

South Africa: 15. Willie le Roux, 14. Bryan Habana, 13. JJ Engelbrecht, 12. Jean de Villiers (captain) / Jan Serfontein, 11. Bjorn Basson, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Ruan Pienaar, 8. Pierre Spies, 7. Willem Alberts / Siya Kolisi, 6. Francois Louw, 5. Flip van der Merwe, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Adriaan Strauss, 1. Tendai Mtawarira Replacements: 16. Bismarck du Plessis, 17. Trevor Nyakane, 18. Coenie Oosthuizen, 19. Juandre Kruger, 20. Siya Kolisi / Marcell Coetzee, 21. Piet van Zyl, 22. Pat Lambie, 23. Jan Serfontein / Juan de Jongh.

Kick-off: 5.15 pm.

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