Meyer banking on Lambie

2012-11-08 00:00

SOUTH Africans will heave a collective sigh of relief at yesterday’s inclusion of Pat Lambie at flyhalf in an otherwise conservatively selected Springbok team to face Ireland in Dublin on Saturday night.

Lambie was named as the second-choice fullback for the Springboks’ three-Test tour of the UK, but coach Heyneke Meyer has honoured his word to use the talented young Shark at flyhalf on tour.

But for the rest, Meyer has kept to the straight and narrow in sticking as closely as possible to the team badly beaten by the All Blacks in the final Rugby Championship international in Soweto, with injury forcing three changes on the Bok coach.

Lambie has taken over from Johan Goosen at flyhalf, JP Pietersen takes over from Bryan Habana on the wing and Andries Bekker is replaced by Juandré Kruger at lock.

But Meyer has surprisingly retained the steady Zane Kirchner at fullback while he will again field Jaco Taute out of position at centre — overlooking specialist Juan de Jongh — while preferring Morné Steyn to Elton Jantjies as his second-choice flyhalf on the bench.

There is also no place in the 22-man squad for the exciting Free State wing/centre Raymond Rhule.

Just days ago Meyer spoke of Taute being a fullback and not a centre.

“I would love to see Jaco at the back,” said Meyer last week.

“He offers something different, and I would like to give him a chance as a number 15. His future is at fullback and I have told him that.”

Meyer added that he used Taute at centre in the Rugby Championship only “because of injury problems”.

It appears that he has now had a change of heart and he has overlooked Currie Cup final try-scorer De Jongh in staying with the midfield (Taute and Jean de Villiers) that failed against the All Blacks.

Lambie’s belated selection is the result of him finally seeing some action (in the Currie Cup) after months on the Springbok bench.

“I’m excited to see what Pat can bring to the team,” Meyer said yesterday. “He played very well in the last few weeks of Currie Cup and I hope he can bring that momentum to the team on Saturday.”

Meyer, in omitting Morné Steyn from the match squad of 22 for the Soccer City Test against the All Blacks, said the Bulls flyhalf did not have the qualities necessary in an impact player. Jantjies was selected on the bench and he finished that Test at flyhalf when Goosen was injured.

But clearly Meyer has concerns about Lambie’s tactical kicking game and he has surrounded the flyhalf with experience, selecting Steyn as insurance on the bench and retaining the trusted Kirchner at fullback.

Meyer said he was pleased to have Pietersen back after the Sharks wing missed the international season because of injury.

“He’s had a great season and will want to finish the season on a high. At lock, there has been strong competition for the number five jersey all season and now Juandré [Kruger] gets an opportunity again.”

The new laws insist on teams fielding a second full front-row (two specialist props and a hooker) on the bench.

Dynamic hooker Schalk Brits, currently playing for Saracens, returns for his first Test since 2008, while CJ van der Linde and Pat Cilliers are the two replacement props.

“Schalk is an explosive player who can bring something special off the bench,” said Meyer.

“CJ is very experienced and knows the conditions here quite well after playing for Leinster for two seasons.”

Attempts to include Zimbabwean Brian Mujati in the touring squad have failed and Meyer confirmed yesterday that Leinster loosehead prop Heinke van der Merwe would join the squad as the 32nd player.

He will also provide cover for the French-based Gurthrö Steenkamp, who joined the squad on Tuesday, but is struggling with a niggling injury.

The Irish will name their team today and Meyer said they would provide a major Test in chilly, possibly wet conditions.

“We’ll be facing an Irish team that are never easy to beat in Dublin.

“The Springboks have only won one of their last four Tests here. They are a quality and well-balanced side with good experienced players.”

Centre and captain Jean de Villiers and flank Francois Louw have overcome their injury concerns and will start on Saturday.

English referee Wayne Barnes will handle the Test, which kicks off at 7.30 pm (SA time) on Saturday.

SPRINGBOKS SQUAD

15 Zane Kirchner, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermuelen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Beast Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Morné Steyn, 22 Juan de Jongh, 23 Lwazi Mvovo

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