Tri-Nations: Only three loose forwards on team to face Wallabies

2011-08-06 00:00

SPRINGBOK coach Peter de Villiers yesterday recalled many of his heavyweights in naming a lop-sided 24-man squad for the home leg of the Tri-Nations series.

The Boks face the Wallabies at King’s Park next Saturday and the All Blacks in Port Elizabeth a week later and they have most of their seniors back in contention.

But De Villiers, in naming 12 backs and 12 forwards, lacks depth and variety in the backrow where he named only three loose forwards in Pierre Spies, Jean Deysel and retreaded lock Danie Rossouw.

De Villiers is clearly hoping that flank Heinrich Brüssow, playing off the bench for the Cheetahs against Western Province today, proves his fitness and form, allowing him to be added to the squad for the Test against the Wallabies next weekend.

Most of the 20-odd players who were in Rustenburg during the Boks’ unsuccessful Tri-Nations trip to Australia and New Zealand are included.

Six players remain on the injured list, although three of them — loose forwards Juan Smith (Achilles’ tendon), Willem Alberts (shoulder) and Schalk Burger (hand) — will join the squad in Durban tomorrow to continue their rehabilitation.

Nine of the players who appeared in the away leg of the Tri-Series have been retained. They are captain John Smit, Gio Aplon, Juan de Jongh, Ruan Pienaar, Morné Steyn, CJ van der Linde, Gerhard Mostert, Jean Deysel and Danie Rossouw.

“We still have a number of injury concerns, but the majority of the players who were in rehabilitation have recovered well and are now available for selection,” said De Villiers.

With lock Johann Muller (hamstring) still on the injured list, and Andries Bekker ruled out of the Rugby World Cup tournament, Test newcomer and former Sharks second-rower Mostert is named in the squad.

“It’s very satisfying to see that Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha have now largely overcome their injuries, but they still require management as we have a shortage of fit locks at the moment,” said De Villiers. “We also have injury problems among the loose forwards, but I am hopeful that all of the four who are not currently in the playing squad [Burger, Alberts, Brüssow and Smith] will be ready for selection by the time of the World Cup.”

It is expected that Sharks’ young utility back Pat Lambie and Chiliboy Ralepelle will also be added to the squad for the RWC.

Butch James is expected to be at flyhalf against the Wallabies next Saturday with Morné Steyn on the bench. Fourie du Preez is certain to return at scrumhalf with Jean de Villiers, Jaque Fourie, Bryan Habana, JP Pietersen and Frans Steyn completing a backline of players from the 2007 RWC.

Smit will probably start at hooker against the Wallabies with Bismarck du Plessis getting his chance against the All Blacks. Gurthro Steenkamp and Beast Mtawarira, on the loosehead, and tightheads Jannie du Plessis and CJ van der Linde will share the propping duties.

These Boks are running out of time and have just these two internationals to shake off the rust before the World Cup in New Zealand.

The squad is crammed — some will say top-heavy — with experience with 15 members of the World Cup-winning party from 2007 included.

We will see next Saturday whether they still have the desire, enthusiasm, intensity and the effective game plan which carried them to the title four years ago.

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SPRINGBOK SQUAD

Backs: Gio Aplon, Frans Steyn, JP Pietersen, Bryan Habana, Jaque Fourie, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers, Morné Steyn, Butch James, Ruan Pienaar, Fourie du Preez, Francois Hougaard.

Forwards: Pierre Spies, Jean Deysel, Danie Rossouw, Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield, Gerhard Mostert, John Smit (captain), Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Gurthro Steenkamp, CJ van der Linde.

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