Quick ball to be key for Boks in Test against Italy, says injured Burger

2010-06-18 00:00

THE Springboks will be without their flank Schalk Burger for tomorrow’s Test against Italy at the Puma Stadium in Witbank.

Burger, who rolled over on his ankle late in the Test against France at Newlands last Saturday, has been receiving treatment all week and has been unable to train.

Craig Roberts, the Springbok team doctor, said yesterday that Burger has been withdrawn as “there was a risk of further injury”.

The burly Francois Louw, who impressed against the French at Newlands, will take over from Burger.

Burger, who spoke to reporters shortly before he failed his fitness test, said the Italians will concentrate on disrupting the Springbok game and the referee’s interpretation at the breakdown will be critical.

The Test will be handled by the New Zealand-born, England-based Andrew Small, and Burger said that the Boks will have to adapt to his interpretations.

“We do know from last year’s Test that Italy will be physical and competitive. Their aim will be to take us out of our comfort zone and they will try and pressure our scrum.

“It is key for us to get quick ball and get momentum and take the ball across the advantage line,” Burger added.

The Italians, said Burger, also have an advantage with Nick Mallett, the former Springbok and Western Province coach, in charge of the tourists.

“Nick is a passionate rugby man and knows the way we play. They will be very well prepared and they’ll be keen to climb into us.”

Mallett has opted for an experienced front row and he believes the Italians will win the battle of the scrums.

The front-row of Martin Castrogiovanni, Leonardo Ghiraldini and Salvatore Perugini, who share 167 Test caps, have proved one of the strongest scrummaging units in world rugby.

Mallett has made six changes to the side that played in their last Six Nations game against Wales.

Andrea Masi and Matteo Pratichetti are their new midfield pairing, and Tito Tebaldi starts at scrumhalf. Lock Valerio Bernabo replaces Marco Bortolam and will partner South African-born lock Quintin Geldenhuys in the second row. Number eight and captain Sergio Parisse returns from injury, and Alessandro Zanni moves to flank.

Geldenhuys, back on his old home ground at Witbank, said yesterday that the Italian pack hope to create problems for the Boks and break their rhythm.

“Our forwards are our strength and we will obviously use that as a platform,” he said.

Geldenhuys said the scrum battle between Martin Castrogiovanni and Gurthro Steenkamp would be “interesting”.

The Italian prop dominated Steenkamp when the Springboks played Leicester in a mid-week game last November, and the Bulls loosehead is determined to prove that his scrummaging has improved.

ITALY

15 Luke McLean, 14 Kaine Robertson, 13 Andrea Masi, 12 Matteo Pratichetti, 11 Mirco Bergamasco, 10 Craig Gower, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Sergio Parisse (capt.), 7 Alessandro Zanni, 6 Simone Favaro, 5 Quintin Geldenhuys, 4 Valerio Bernabo, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Salvatore Perugini.

Replacements: 16 Fabio Ongaro, 17 Lorenzo Cittadini, 18 Marco Bortolami, 19 Paul Derbyshire, 20 Simon Picone, 21 Riccardo Bocchino, 22 Gonzalo Canale.

Kick-off: 3 pm

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