Sharks players Ndungane, McLeod get called up for last two Tests

2010-11-19 00:00

TWO Sharks backs, scrumhalf Charl McLeod and wing Odwa Ndungane, have been called up by Springbok coach Peter de Villiers for the final two matches of the team’s end-of-year tour.

The two, along with Blue Bulls hooker Badise Maku, will join the Bok squad in London on Sunday and will be available for the final two games of the tour – against England and the Barbarians — both at Twickenham.

The slick, snappy McLeod, who is uncapped, played a prominent role in the Sharks’ successful Currie Cup campaign this year while the experienced Ndungane (29) and Maku (24) have had one outing for the Boks in June this year.

They are replacements for injured wings Bryan Habana, Bjorn Basson and hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle and return the Springbok squad to the original compliment of 30

“I called the players to let them know the good news and they’re all really excited to be joining us,” said De Villiers. “I considered calling them in this week but with all the other disruptions I thought it’d be better to focus as much as we could on what is a very important Test against Scotland.

“They can start with us fresh on Monday morning at the beginning of a new Test week.”

De Villiers said that an ankle injury in the Currie Cup final had prevented McLeod being named as an immediate replacement for scrumhalf Ricky Januarie, who was a late withdrawal from the tour.

“But we’re delighted to be able to give him a chance to show us what he can do at the highest level.”

Meanwhile the Springboks are expecting a strong backlash when they meet Scotland in Edinburgh tomorrow.

Gary Gold, the Springbok forward coach, said the team was on “high alert” for an aggressive Scottish reaction to their 49-3 pasting by the All Blacks last weekend.

“The Scots will be hurting and they’ll want to erase that memory,” said Gold. “We’re not reading too much into the loss. As Graham Henry [All Blacks coach] said himself, the New Zealanders hit a real purple patch and not many teams are able to live with them in that mood.

“It was Scotland’s first match together after five months and they’ll be much better for it. They had a series win in Argentina this year and beat Australia at Murrayfield a year ago so they pose a major threat. It would be a big mistake to use last Saturday’s result as any serious form guide.”

Springbok scrumhalf Francois Hougaard missed yesterday’s training session after reporting to breakfast with a cold but Gold said he was confident the Bulls player would recover in time.

Jean de Villiers, who leads the Bok backline, said it was “disappointing” to lose the experienced wing Bryan Habana to injury.

“But an opportunity has opened up for Lwazi [Mvovo] to make his debut and we’re all really excited for him. He has had an outstanding Currie Cup season with the Sharks and deserves his chance to show us what he can do in the Springbok jersey.”

Mvovo says the 18-year-old George North, who scored two tries for Wales against South Africa last Saturday, would be an inspiration for him.

“He showed that if you’re good enough, you’re old enough,” he said.

Mvovo, who is 24 but has only been playing rugby for seven years, believes he is ready for Test rugby.

“I’m just so honoured. Back home in the Transkei there is a lot of excitement, a lot of happiness, and I’m going to go for it.”

Scotland coach Andy Robinson said the drug allegations would mould the Springboks into an even tighter unit.

“It’s difficult when you lose two players, but the Boks are a united side. Victor Matfield [the Bok captain] is a quality person and also a fantastic leader. It’s clear that he has a big following in the side. Their two wins on tour shows that there is unity in the team.”

Robinson said that the Springboks would take the direct route in looking for a Murrayfield win.

“The Boks will take route one, they will look to come over us and through us. They have a very good pack of forwards,” said Robinson who conceded he was “still shell-shocked” after the 49-3 drubbing by the All Blacks last weekend.

The Test kicks off at 4.30 pm tomorrow.

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