Meyer drops Keegan Daniel for Boks’ Mendoza encounter

2012-08-23 00:00

SHARKS captain and number eight Keegan Daniel has been dropped from the Springbok team to face the Argentinians in the second round of the Rugby Championship in Mendoza on Saturday night.

Coach Heyneke Meyer has made two changes to the team that played at Newlands at the weekend. One was forced on him by the serious knee injury suffered by hooker Bismarck du Plessis, and Adriaan Strauss, who replaced him after four minutes at Newlands, keeps his place.

The other sees Daniel make way as Meyer, predictably, has preferred the brawn and physicality of Jacques Potgieter to the skill and mobility of Daniel. Willem Alberts shifts from the side of the scrum to number eight, with Potgieter included on the blindside flank.

“It was a difficult decision between Jacques and Keegan, but we have gone with horses for courses this time,” said Meyer.

The Bok coach said the Test would be tough and physical in the opening quarter, but could become more open later.

“This perfectly suits the strong points of both Jacques and Keegan,” he added. “The Pumas also mauled quite well in Cape Town and we were not happy with the defence of their mauls, so with the extra weight Jacques brings, we will have to ensure we stop their drives.

“Argentina played a very physical game in Cape Town … and they will step it up this weekend in front of their home fans. It will be a very tough Test and we need to be 100% switched on.”

The Springboks were concerned about the fitness of wing Bryan Habana (ankle) and lock Andries Bekker, but both were yesterday cleared to play on Saturday.

There had been speculation that Meyer would include Ruan Pienaar at scrumhalf with Francois Hougaard shifted to the wing, but he has not tampered with the backline that saw action at Newlands.

He has also selected conservatively on the bench and joining Daniel in the reserves is Stormers hooker Tiaan Liebenberg, who has been named ahead of Craig Burden.

Burden, on form and natural talent, has all the qualities one would want in a player coming off the bench, but Meyer has stayed with the more traditional strengths of Liebenberg. Certainly Sharks coach John Plumtree will not be happy that his dynamic hooker will be kicking his heels in Mendoza on Saturday night when he could be gainfully employed at Loftus.

The Pumas, meanwhile, suffered a major blow yesterday when flyhalf Juan Martín Hernández withdrew from the Test with a torn groin muscle.

Hernández, a former Sharks flyhalf and playmaker, suffered the injury near the end of an intense training session in Buenos Aires.

Hernández, returning to international rugby, was considered one of the world’s leading flyhalves before serious back and knee injuries interrupted his Test career three years ago.

Pumas coach Santiago Phelan, in announcing his team earlier in the day, had made just one change from the Cape Town Test, bringing in Martin Rodriguez at fullback in place of Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino.

Phelan will name a replacement for Hernández — and the replacement bench — later today when his squad travel to Mendoza, but it is expected that the experienced Santiago Fernandez, who was used in the pivot role at the Rugby World Cup last year, will switch from centre to flyhalf.

The Australian-based Steve Walsh, who refereed the Newlands Test, will again be in charge in Mendoza. The Test kicks off at 9.10 pm (SA time) on Saturday.

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