Decision pending on De Villiers’s fitness after hamstring injury

2013-06-07 00:00

WHILE the Springboks have delayed a decision on the fitness of hamstrung captain Jean de Villiers, the Italians yesterday handed a Test debut to a 33-year-old flyhalf when they included Alberto di Bernardo in their side for tomorrow evening’s international at King’s Park.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said that De Villiers, who is nursing a hamstring strain, remained doubtful for the quadrangular series opener, which also involves Scotland and Samoa. De Villiers will be assessed again today, when a decision will be made, Meyer said.

Baby Bok Jan Serfontein, who has been named on the bench, will join his Bulls partner J.J. Englebrecht in the midfield if De Villiers is ruled out, with hooker Adriaan Strauss taking over the captaincy. Cheetahs’ centre Robert Ebersohn, who received a late call-up to join the large Bok squad, is likely to take Serfontein’s place on the bench if there is a late change.

The Argentinian-born Bernardo plays for Treviso and he reportedly showed excellent form in the Celtic League this year. He replaces fellow Argentina-born Luciano Orquera, who drops to the bench after being the first-choice flyhalf during Italy’s Six Nations campaign.

The Italians had one of their more successful campaigns in the European competition this year, finishing fourth after upsetting both France and Ireland.

Another Italian veteran, the 32-year-old lock and former captain Marco Bortolami, returns to the line-up after spending the year on the sidelines with a shoulder injury.

The South African front row will be relieved that Leicester prop Martin Castrogiovanni, who has given them problems in the past, is on the bench rather than in the starting line-up.

The Springbok-Italy game is at 5.15 pm, with Scotland playing Samoa at 2.15 pm tomorrow.

Italian team: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Giovanbattista Venditti, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Luke Mclean, 10 Alberto Di Bernardo, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse (captain), 7 Robert Barbieri, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Antonio Pavanello, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Alberto De Marchi.

Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni, 19 Valerio Bernabo, 20 Joshua Furno, 21 Tobias Botes, 22 Luciano Orquera, 23 Tommaso Iannone.

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