Exciting young players to make way for Fourie and recalled Steyn

2010-08-25 00:00

SPRINGBOK coach Peter de Villiers yesterday dipped into the past and sacrificed promise for the future naming his team to face the Wallabies in the Tri-Nations Test at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday evening.

De Villiers has recalled fullback Frans Steyn and veteran centre Jaque Fourie in the only two changes to the side pipped by the All Blacks in Soweto at the weekend and two of their exciting young backs, Gio Aplon and Juan de Jongh, have had to make way.

The 23-year-old Steyn, who has played precious little rugby in the past two months after falling out with his coach, and Fourie, back from a four-week suspension after a tip tackle, add brawn to the back division, but the two young Province backs are unlucky to have been dropped after the Soweto Test.

The tenacious De Jongh is demoted to the bench, dislodging Wynand Olivier, while Aplon drops out of the match 22.

De Villiers admitted he had battled with selection.

“How do you tell a guy who has played well that he is not part of the team, or is on the bench?” De Villiers said.

“But that is part of my job as coach that sometimes I must make unpopular decisions. The reality is that there are only 15 places in the starting line-up and I have to do what I believe is best for the team.

“Juan [de Jongh] will be a great one day, but Jaque Fourie is one already. He has played 60 Tests and, with the exception of his yellow card in Brisbane, has done well for us all season,” De Villiers said.

“Gio did not do anything wrong, but we have an opportunity to see Frans play. He also offers us another kicking option, which will take some pressure off Morné Steyn.

“Frans is an outstanding player, a natural athlete. He’s used to playing alongside many of these players and I have no doubt that he’ll slot straight in.”

Steyn, involved in an ongoing public spat with his coach that has lasted months, last played a Test against Wales in Cardiff on June 5.

Springbok flank Juan Smith, who was suffering from an abdominal strain but was impressive against the All Blacks in Soweto, has been passed fit, but De Villiers has surprised in retaining the young Flip van der Merwe at lock ahead of fit-again veteran Danie Rossouw.

“We gave Flip a chance last Saturday, and he took it with both hands,” said De Villiers. “We knew that with Juan Smith back, we didn’t really need another strong ball-carrier, but rather another hard nut like Bakkies.”

Sharks number eight Ryan Kankowski, after his strong game against Western Province on Saturday, provides loose forward cover, replacing Francois Louw and adding pace and game-breaking skills to the replacement bench. Louw replaced Smith in the last quarter against the All Blacks, but made little impact.

De Villiers has again kept faith in number eight Pierre Spies who will be playing on his home ground at Loftus and looking for a convincing display after a subdued Tri-Nations run.

Aplon, Olivier and Louw will be released to the provinces and will be available for Currie Cup duty this weekend.

The Test kicks off at 5 pm on Saturday.

Springbok team:

15. Frans Steyn, 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Jaque Fourie, 12. Jean de Villiers, 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Francois Hougaard, 8. Pierre Spies, 7. Juan Smith, 6. Schalk Burger, 5. Victor Matfield, 4. Flip van der Merwe, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. John Smit (capt), 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp.

Replacements: 16. Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17. CJ van der Linde, 18. Danie Rossouw, 19. Ryan Kankowski, 20. Ricky Januarie, 21. Butch James, 22. Juan de Jongh.

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