Potgieter set to make debut

2012-06-21 00:00

BULLS and former Sharks flank Jacques Potgieter will make his Springbok debut in the third and final Test against England at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday evening.

There was also good news for the Boks’ caretaker captain Jean de Villiers with coach Heyneke Meyer yesterday confirming that the Stormers centre now has the job for the year.

Meyer has kept to the script in making three changes, all forced on him, to the team that started against England at Ellis Park and took the Boks to a 2-0 series triumph with a 36-27 victory.

Three Sharks players, Frans Steyn, Pat Lambie and Willem Alberts, drop out with Wynand Olivier, Gio Aplon and Potgieter taking over. Steyn, who is now back with the Sharks after his stint in France, is getting married on Saturday, while Lambie (ankle) and Alberts (knee) have failed to recover from their Ellis Park injuries.

The 155-kg Potgieter spent two years in Durban in 2008-09 and played Vodacom Cup rugby for the Sharks before moving to Port Elizabeth and then, this year, Pretoria.

Meyer has made two changes to the bench with young Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies included in a Test squad for the first time, while Sharks number eight Ryan Kankowski surprisingly takes over from fellow-loose forward Keegan Daniel.

“Injuries have forced us to make a number of changes, which is never ideal, but this provides an opportunity for players like Gio, Wynand and Jacques to put up their hands,” Meyer said yesterday.

“Gio is our third fullback of the series, but he’s experienced and has been part of our planning.

“Wynand came on as a replacement in both of the first two Tests and knows our game plan, while Jacques has impressed this year as a very strong ball carrier. I’m looking to him to continue with the good work Willem has done in the last fortnight.”

Kankowski is a specialist number eight, but Meyer said the Sharks backrower’s strong running had played a part in his selection to the bench.

The coach said: “Jacques has not played for a while and we felt Ryan, with his explosive running, is the right option for this game if he needs to take over from Jacques.

“Keegan [Daniel] did very well in the first two Tests, but for this match we felt that Ryan is a better option.

“Elton comes in to provide cover at flyhalf and is a very good goal kicking option, something we will miss with Steyn [and Lambie] not available.

“Bjorn Basson still covers all three positions in the back trio, JP Pietersen or Bryan Habana can play outside centre and Jean will move to inside centre if needed, so we are covered in all positions in the backline.”

Appointing De Villiers for the rest of the year — and nine further Tests — Meyer said that his new captain had quickly “established himself as a brilliant leader and ambassador for the Boks and South African rugby”.

“He leads the team with distinction on and off the field and gained respect, not just from his team-mates and the management team, but also from the media, public, sponsors and other stake holders.

“We have built up an awesome working relationship based on trust, integrity and loyalty, which is why I decided to make him the captain for the rest of the year.”

Meyer said De Villiers had gained the reputation as a fine leader — “and he can be one of the best Bok captains ever”.

De Villiers said he was delighted and honoured by the appointment and the faith shown in him.

“The experience thus far has been unbelievable and humbling and I’ve really enjoyed the environment created by Heyneke Meyer,” said De Villiers.

“It’s easy working with this team and the help that I’ve received from the other senior players has made my job so much easier.”

Saturday’s Test starts at 5 pm and Steve Walsh (Australia) — who handled the Durban Test — will again be in charge.

SOUTH AFRICAN TEAM

15 Gio Aplon, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtwarira Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Ryan Kankowski, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Bjorn Basson

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