Sharks’ nemesis to referee Boks’ clash with Wallabies

2011-10-04 00:00

TUBBY New Zealand referee Bryce Lawrence will be in charge of South Africa’s World Cup quarter-final against Australia in Wellington on Sunday and the Springbok front row — all Sharks — will not be pleased.

Lawrence was the referee in the Sharks’ Super Rugby play-off game against the Crusaders late in June and famously penalised Beast Mtawarira for packing down dangerously before the scrum had even engaged.

Lawrence is highly rated by Sanzar refereeing boss, fellow New Zealander Paddy O’Brien, and was judged the “best-performing referee” in Super Rugby.

He was handed the final even though New Zealand’s Crusaders were involved.

South African Craig Joubert will referee the opening quarter-final between Wales and Ireland, while Steve Walsh will take charge of the England-France Test in Auckland. Nigel Owens, criticised by the Samoans after the match against South Africa, will referee New Zealand’s match against Argentina.

A panel of 10 referees and two specialist television match officials (TMOs) have been selected from the panel of 21 officials in action during the Pool Stages.

South African referee Jonathan Kaplan is among them while Shaun Veldsman is one of the two TMOs.

The Springbok team to play the Wallabies will be named late tonight (SA time) and there is concern in the South African camp over the fitness of wings Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen.

Habana suffered a badly bruised thigh in the physical Test against the Samoans while Pietersen injured a knee.

“We’re worried about our two wingers,” coach Peter de Villiers said yesterday.

“Hopefully the longer week [the Boks play on Sunday] will help us to get them right for the quarter-final.”

De Villiers said the two were the only injury worries, with lock Bakkies Botha “now fine” and Francois Hougaard over the blow he took to the head against Samoa.

De Villiers could start with Botha at lock and then field the in-form Danie Rossouw as an impact player off the bench, while the lively Hougaard is an obvious selection on the wing if either Pietersen or Habana is sidelined.

Jean de Villiers is expected to return for the injured Frans Steyn at inside centre, though there was speculation in the Bok camp yesterday that Butch James may be included to add some resolve to the midfield defence.

Pat Lambie, after his calm and brave showing against Samoa, will be at fullback with either Gio Aplon or possibly Odwa Ndungane providing wing/fullback cover off the bench.

There is again little to choose between Mtawarira and Gurthro Steenkamp at loosehead prop, but most interest is centred on the hooking role.

The original plan, according to insiders, was that Bismarck du Plessis would be at hooker in the play-offs with Smit on the bench. But De Villiers has been singing the praises of his captain and the improving Smit could play the first half with Bismarck du Plessis taking over in the second.

Full referee play-off list:

Wayne Barnes (England), George Clancy (Ireland), Craig Joubert (South Africa), Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa), Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand), Nigel Owens (Wales), Dave Pearson (England), Romain Poite (France), Alain Rolland (Ireland) and Steve Walsh (Australia) will perform Referee and Assistant Referee duties. Giulio De Santis (Italy) and Shaun Veldsman (South Africa) have been selected as the two specialist TMOs.

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