Steenkamp in line for 50th cap

2014-06-11 00:00

GURTHRÖ Steenkamp is on the verge of being picked for his 50th Test match when the Springboks’ starting line-up is announced today.

The prop forward will not be the only change in Bok coach Heyneke Meyer’s team who run out onto the field against Wales on Saturday.

Centre Jan Serfontein, flank Schalk Burger and scrumhalf Fourie du Preez could be among the changes.

Serfontein will probably replace Frans Steyn, who yesterday withdrew from the Springboks, while Du Preez and Burger could strengthen the team.

While Steenkamp’s inclusion would be a great gesture towards his 50th Test match celebrations, it would also give the Toulouse prop the opportunity to show that he can solve a few headaches for the Springboks.

There have been some question marks lately about the standard of play of Beast Mtawarira, Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis in the Bok front row.

Steenkamp is also not the only one to reach a milestone this weekend. His captain, Victor Matfield, will be part of at least another three records.

Matfield will equal John Smit’s record of 111 Tests for his country, and will become – with Johan Ackermann – the oldest Springbok (37 years and 43 days) and also the oldest Bok captain. The previous oldest player to captain the Boks was Boy Morkel, who was 36 years and 258 days old in 1921.

Matfield only reaches Smit’s record this weekend because last week’s match against the World team was not recognised as an official Test.

Bok flank Francois Louw said at yesterday’s media conference that it did not matter whether the Welsh team had been weakened by the absence of the injured Sam Warburton and flank Justin Tipuric.

The two were both in Wales’ team who played the Springboks in Cardiff.

It will be up to Dan Lydiate, who yesterday captained Wales against the Eastern Province’s Kings in Port Elizabeth, to make up for their absence. Lydiate has been out of action for five weeks due to a loin injury.

The visitors will especially miss Warburton, whose captaincy has been taken over by lock Alun-Wyn Jones.

“Sam Warburton and Tipuric are not playing.

“They are two of Wales’ best loose forwards,” said Louw.

“It’s not that the team do not have depth.

“They still have players in their group who can do the work.

“It is irrelevant to us whether they are perhaps somewhat weakened.

“We would like to play our game, targeting the break-off phases, take the correct decisions, slowing their ball possession and handle ours quickly,” he added.

“Our game plan stays the same, regardless who they may select.”

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