Pienaar finally in Bok line-up

2010-07-21 00:00

SPRINGBOK coach Peter de Villiers has finally bowed to pressure — and defeat — and dropped scrumhalf Ricky Januarie for Ruan Pienaar for Saturday’s Tri-Nations Test against the Wallabies in Brisbane.

De Villiers has made four changes to his starting line-up and has added pace to a pedestrian Bok line-up. Gio Aplon takes over from the suspended Jean de Villiers on the wing, Pienaar dislodges the combative Januarie at scrumhalf, Sharks mobile, ball-carrying number eight Ryan Kankowski has been chosen out of position on the flank — he replaces Francois Louw — and BJ Botha is preferred to CJ van der Linde in the front-row.

Januarie, brave and busy, has mixed good with bad in both Tests in New Zealand, but the smooth-passing Pienaar has far more to offer the Boks and they played their most effective rugby when the Sharks scrumhalf was on for the last quarter in Wellington.

Pienaar, who has spent most of his Test career playing everywhere but scrumhalf, will make his first start in his favoured position since 2007.

Few will quibble with the inclusion of Aplon on the wing, where Jean de Villiers has been playing out of position, and the nuggety Western Province player will add a counter-attacking edge to the Bok team.

The selection of Sharks number eight Kankowski on the flank will cause some debate. Number eight Pierre Spies was subdued in New Zealand and a straight swap would have been more logical. But the Boks are looking for pace — and Spies has that — and the burly Louw, who was far more effective in Wellington than he was in Auckland, has taken a tumble.

De Villiers said the Brisbane venue — where the Boks have never won — is one of the quickest in world rugby.

“If you look at all the Super 14 venues, this one in Brisbane is the quickest and the Reds showed you can really run the ball here,” De Villiers said in explaining the two major changes to the Bok team.

The Boks, without the fetching ability of Louw, could struggle at the tackle, but De Villiers believes Schalk Burger will cover the gap.

“Schalk has a lot of experience, he’s the senior partner of the loose trio, and he will have to stay by the ball while the others make the running. But all the forwards know we don’t have the luxury of getting to the ball later,” De Villiers said.

Kankowski told reporters he isconfident of filling the role of blindside flank.

“I’ve played one or two Tests at seven, but I haven’t played there for a while. But I know the role, Schalk and Flo [Louw] have been helping me a lot too, and I’ve been training as cover for number seven this season anyway. Peter had spoken to me before the Wales Test [on June 5] and he said he wanted me to cover both blindside and number eight,” Kankowski said.

There are four new faces on the Bok bench, with lock Flip van der Merwe, flank Dewald Potgieter, Francois Hougaard — who will cover wing and scrumhalf — and centre Juan de Jongh joining Butch James (flyhalf), hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle and Van der Linde (prop).

Louw and Januarie drop out of the 22-man squad.

The Wallabies named their starting line-up yesterday and will hope to pick up where the All Blacks left off against the Boks.

Looshead Benn Robinson, who has been troubled by injury, is back in the Wallabies front- row and he has fond memories of his last Test against the Boks last year when he dominated John Smit, who was out of position at tighthead.

The Boks will be stronger with Smit, one of the strongest scrummaging hookers in world rugby, back in his specialist position and BJ Botha packing down against Robinson.

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans, in making three changes, has also recalled veteran lock Nathan Sharpe and scrumhalf Will Genia, who has recovered from a broken thumb.

The only other change from the side that edged to a 22-15 win over Ireland in late June is positional, with Adam Ashley-Cooper moving to fullback and James O’Connor taking his place on the wing.

“We’ve obviously been able to have a good look at both South Africa and New Zealand through their matches over the last two weekends,” Deans said.

“The imagery from those games has left our players in no doubt as to the magnitude of the task ahead.

“This competition features the top three sides in the world on the IRB rankings, and we are chasing the other two.”

Saturday’s Test kicks off at 12 pm.

 

TEAMS

Springboks

15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Ryan Kankowski, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Danie Rossouw, 3 BJ Botha, 2 John Smit (c), 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp.

Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Dewald Potgieter, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Butch James, 22 Juan de Jongh

Wallabies

15 Adam Ashley Cooper, 14 James O’Connor, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Richard Brown, 7 David Pocock, 6 Rocky Elsom (c), 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Salesi Ma’afu, 2 Saia Fainga, 1 Benn Robinson.

Replacements: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 James Slipper, 18 Rob Simmons, 19 Matt Hodgson, 20 Luke Burgess, 21 Berrick Barnes, 22 Kurtley Beale.

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