Steyn only change to Bok squad

2010-11-10 00:00

FRANS Steyn, who has bobbed around the Springbok backline since making his Test debut in 2006, now finds himself at outside centre for Saturday’s Test against Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

The 23-year-old Steyn’s inclusion for Zane Kirchner is the only change to the team that beat Ireland 23-21 in Dublin at the weekend. The former Shark’s inclusion in the Bok team was delayed by Racing Metro, who insisted he play in a French club game before being released.

Steyn, who played at inside centre in the 2007 Rugby World Cup, has now played a Test in every position in the Springbok backline except scrumhalf and he should have little problem settling in outside Jean de Villiers in midfield.

Kirchner drops to the bench where he replaces specialist centre Adi Jacobs.

De Villiers has had several public spats with the outspoken Steyn, but yesterday was quick to welcome the prodigious young talent and said he had no hesitation thrusting him back into the frontline.

“We pulled this team together at short notice for last week’s Test. We are happy with the way they performed against Ireland, but we couldn’t ignore the experience of Frans Steyn,” said De Villiers.

“He has only had two field training sessions with us to date so he is still slotting himself back in, but he has brought real enthusiasm to the squad and it’s a pleasure to have him back with us. He brings that X-factor to the team and it would be a waste to leave that on the bench.”

De Villiers says Steyn’s experience in midfield was a deciding factor and conceded that Kirchner, a fullback playing out of position against Ireland, was not tested in Dublin although he did all that was asked of him.

“Frans understands the position more having played there, and having him there will bring more confidence to the team,” he said.

Steyn played outside Jean de Villiers in the 2008 Test against Australia in Perth and it is likely that the two will switch positions on attack and defence.

De Villiers said he is happy to have the 102 kg Steyn alongside him in midfield.

“Zane did well, but Frans is a big, physical boy who will take some stopping. We’ve played a lot together, although most of the time we’ve been in different positions. But we have a good understanding.”

De Villiers has been nursing a groin injury but he was recovering.

“The groin wasn’t 100% on Saturday but it felt good in training today and on Saturday I’m sure it will be fine.”

He said he expects the Test to be played under a closed roof and added that the Welsh backs will be “challenging”.

Coach De Villiers could make a second change to the bench and is waiting on flank Willem Alberts’s late fitness test and a decision on whether the Millennium Stadium roof will be open or closed.

Keegan Daniel was the replacement loose forward against Ireland, but De Villiers may opt for Alberts if the going is heavy or either Daniel or Ryan Kankowski if the field is dry.

De Villiers, asked why Ruan Pienaar was preferred to Francois Hougaard at scrumhalf, said that he was being consistent in his selection.

“Ruan had the position before Francois, but was then injured. And Pienaar does take pressure off his flyhalf (Morné Steyn) with his kicking game.”

The Bok coach said he expected a fierce onslaught from Wales.

“They have been bitterly disappointed on a couple of recent occasions when they felt they could have beaten us and they’ll be looking to put that right,” he said.

“They’ll be hurting after losing to the Wallabies at the weekend and I’m sure they see us as the soft target in their three matches against the Tri-Nations teams.

“We’ve had a tough year, but we’re only focusing on delivering another improved performance on Saturday and then the result should look after itself.”

The Test kicks off at 4.30 pm on Saturday.

Springbok team:

15 Gio Aplon, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 Frans Steyn, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Juan Smith, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira

Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 A. N. Other, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Zane Kirchner, 22 Pat Lambie.

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