‘Inspiring’ James, De Villiers in Bok squad

2010-06-08 00:00

FRANS Steyn has been dumped, but his old Sharks team-mate Butch James is back in the 27-man Springbok squad for the June internationals against France at Newlands on Saturday and the two against Italy over the following fortnight.

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers yesterday said that Steyn and number eight Joe van Niekerk, who both played against Wales at the weekend but have now been omitted, “were off the pace” in Cardiff and need to play Super 14 rugby to gain their sharpness and earn selection.

De Villiers will name his starting line-up for Saturday’s Test at Newlands later today.

Also dropped after the Boks’ 34-31 win over Wales was prop CJ van der Linde and centre Meyer Bosman, while James and centre Jean de Villiers, both selected to play against Wales but then forced to withdraw, are included.

Wing Odwa Ndungane, who was injured in scoring a try against Wales, was not considered.

Lanky, in-form Stormers lock Andries Bekker was another to miss selection and De Villiers said this was because of a back injury and not because of his off-field activities, which were highlighted by sections of the weekend press.

Players involved in the Super 14 final returning to the squad are Wynand Olivier, Morne Steyn, Bryan Habana, Pierre Spies, Schalk Burger, Gurthro Steenkamp and Flip van der Merwe, the Bulls reserve lock who is the only new cap.

Veteran lock Bakkies Botha, still under suspension and only available for the second Italy Test, was also included.

De Villiers confirmed that scrumhalf Fourie du Preez is to have shoulder surgery today and he will be sidelined for the rest of the year.

”It is important that he is fit and ready for the World Cup next year,” he said.

Du Preez’s absence opens the door for the Sharks’ Ruan Pienaar to return to his favoured position and he and Ricky Januarie were the only scrumhalves named in the squad.

Only two hookers were named in captain John Smit and Chiliboy Ralepelle, who is the third-choice at the Bulls.

“I have been criticised for not selecting overseas-based players,” said De Villiers, “but it showed against Wales,” said De Villiers.

“Frans Steyn was the best in the world last year, but he wasn’t in Cardiff, and that is a problem. I don’t know what he is going to do to get back there. Playing overseas is not the answer.”

De Villiers said that Jean de Villiers, now back with Western Province, had always been honest with him.

“He phoned me [last year] and said he was making a big mistake [by signing for Munster] and would be back by June 1.”

Tighthead BJ Botha and Bath flyhalf James are the only overseas players selected.

“I feel that it would be unfair to leave him out now after the club dispute forced him out of the Welsh Test.”

De Villiers told News24 that James earned his place ahead of someone like in-form Stormers flyhalf Peter Grant because he inspires the players around him.

“There are seven other players who feel they play better when Butch is around. This is not an individual sport, it is a team sport, and we must make the selections that help the team cause.”

Springbok squad:

Backs:

Zane Kirchner, Gio Aplon, Bjorn Basson, Jaque Fourie, Jean de Villiers, Wynand Olivier, Juan de Jongh, Butch James, Morne Steyn, Bryan Habana, Ruan Pienaar, Ricky Januarie.

Forwards:

Pierre Spies, Ryan Kankowski, Dewald Potgieter, Francois Louw, Schalk Burger, Bakkies Botha, Flip van der Merwe, Danie Rossouw, Victor Matfield, Alistair Hargreaves, BJ Botha, John Smit (captain), Chiliboy Ralepelle, Jannie du Plessis, Gurthro Steenkamp.

 

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