Kirchner to leapfrog Lambie

2013-09-04 00:00

ZANE Kirchner will leapfrog Pat Lambie into the fullback position, while the abrasive Bismarck du Plessis will finally be back as first-choice hooker when coach Heyneke Meyer names his Springbok team to face the Wallabies in the Rugby Championship international in Brisbane on Saturday.

Meyer will name his team early today (SA time) and he will make four changes — one positional — to the outfit that stuttered to a bruising win over the Pumas in Mendoza last month.

Bismarck du Plessis, widely regarded as the best hooker in world rugby, will finally be back in the starting line-up after having his international career blocked first by Springbok captain John Smit, then a serious knee injury and, more recently, by the excellent form of Adriaan Strauss.

Meyer is looking to Du Plessis to add a competitive edge to his pack and improve the Springboks’ work at the breakdown.

Lock Flip van der Merwe is to take over from Juandré Kruger to provide a greater physical presence in the second row, though the Boks’ lineout work will suffer.

Fullback Willie le Roux and wing Bjorn Basson, following a series of defensive errors against Argentina, were obviously going to be shifted as Meyer juggled his back three.

Lambie, who came off the bench at fullback in both internationals against the Pumas and performed impressively, was the logical replacement for Le Roux, but Meyer is going to fall back on old favourite Kirchner. The Bulls player was added to Meyer’s 28-man touring squad and, according to a source in Brisbane yesterday, it has been Kirchner, and not Lambie, who has been running at fullback this week.

With JP Pietersen playing his rugby in Japan, and leaving a gaping hole on the wing, Le Roux will switch from fullback and take over from Basson on Saturday.

Bismarck du Plessis’s imminent return was all but confirmed yesterday when he joined Springbok assistant coach Johann van Graan at a media conference.

They both highlighted the importance of the breakdown.

“It will be massive and it will decide the Test,” said Van Graan. “Every breakdown is a contest nowadays.”

Du Plessis said that there might be 10 to 20 scrums and lineouts in the game “but you could have between 120 and180 breakdowns”.

“If you want to place your opponents under pressure, or if you are looking to create opportunities, you have to perform at the breakdowns.”

The Bok hooker said that Scottish coach Richie Gray, hired by the Springboks as a breakdown consultant, had been playing a vital role.

“You are always looking to improve in this game. Once you stop trying to improve, it is time to give up rugby,” he said.

Alain Rolland was to referee the game, but he is injured, and is replaced by fellow Irishman George Clancy. The Test kicks off at 12.05 pm (SA time).

Probable Bok team

15. Zane Kirchner, 14. Willie le Roux, 13. JJ Engelbrecht, 12. Jean de Villiers (captain), 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Ruan Pienaar, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Francois Louw, 5. Flip van der Merwe, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis (v/c), 1. Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16. Adriaan Strauss, 17. Gürthro Steenkamp, 18. Coenie Oosthuizen, 19. Juandré Kruger, 20. Siya Kolisi, 21. Jano Vermaak, 22. Patrick Lambie, 23. Jan Serfontein.

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