No room for Du Toit

2013-11-15 00:00

IT was out with the future and in with the past as Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer yesterday overlooked dynamic young Sharks lock Pieter-Steph du Toit for Sunday’s Test against Scotland.

Meyer has made five changes to the team that started against Wales. He has rested the impressive Eben Etzebeth, dropping him to the bench. However, he has paired veteran Bakkies Botha and Flip van der Merwe in the second row and Du Toit, the man-of-the-match in the Currie Cup final, drops out of the match 23.

Pat Lambie, who started at fullback against Wales but moved to flyhalf when Morné Steyn left the field with a back strain, will start in the pivot role with Willie le Roux in the last line of defence.

Meyer, with an eye on the tough Test against France just six days after the Murrayfield international, is resting several key players.

Lock Botha, now with Toulon, returns for the first time since the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in 2011, while loosehead Gurthrö Steenkamp and hooker Adriaan Strauss are also in the starting line-up.

Etzebeth, Tendai Mtawarira and Bismarck du Plessis have been rested, but will be lurking on the bench.

Meyer has described Du Toit as an awesome talent but he wants his number five lock (in this case Flip van der Merwe) to call the lineouts.

Quite why this quality should determine selection is uncertain. There is nothing in the laws to prevent one of the other forwards, or even scrumhalf Fourie du Preez, making the calls.

The Scotland game at Murrayfield, sandwiched between Tests against Wales and France, did seem the ideal opportunity to start with Du Toit, one of the brightest prospects in world rugby. The Sharks team management will also argue that the towering Sharks lock is perfectly capable of controlling the lineout.

Coach Brad Macleod-Henderson said that Du Toit had performed the role when playing for Sharks in the Currie Cup. Meanwhile, captain Keegan Daniel praised him for taking charge of the lineout in the final last month and placing the highly-regarded Western Province jumpers under massive pressure.

Meyer has preferred Van der Merwe to Du Toit, and the Blue Bulls lock did have one of his better games against Wales, though he again conceded a number of penalties.

The Springbok coach, in announcing the team via an audio link yesterday, said that the choice at lock had been difficult.

“I wanted to see where Bakkies stands. He has brought a fresh vibe to the squad and he is in excellent condition but I need to see whether he is still good enough to play for the Springboks.

“Scotland have a very good lineout and I did not want to change both locks. There are also a lot of lineout calls in a game and it is important to have the continuity.”

Meyer said he rated Du Toit highly — “and he will be involved going forward”.

Morné Steyn (back), who is on the bench, and flank Willem Alberts (shoulder) face fitness tests tomorrow.

“If Alberts is unfit to start, Siya Kolisi will take his place. Marcell Coetzee has been included on the bench in another rotational change and Kolisi will drop out of the 23-man squad if Alberts is passed fit.

“I don’t want to take risks with Willem. He has an injured A/C joint and is 50/50.

“He was outstanding against Wales where he had the most tackles and made the biggest hits. We would love him to play on Sunday but we won’t take a chance with him.”

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts/Siya Kolisi, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Adriaans Strauss, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp

Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Tendai Mtawarira 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Eben Etzebeth, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Morné Steyn/AN Other, 23 JJ Engelbrecht.

Kick-off: 5.00 pm on Sunday (SA time).

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