‘Unstoppable’ Boks

2013-08-22 00:00

TO the surprise of no one, coach Heyneke Meyer yesterday named an unchanged Springbok starting line-up to face the Pumas in their Rugby Championship international in Mendoza on Saturday night.

There is just one change to the match squad of 23, with replacement scrumhalf Jano Vermaak taking over from Fourie du Preez on the bench.

The Japan-based Du Preez is only available for the Springboks’ three home games in the Rugby Championship because of contractural obligations.

Vermaak, if he takes the field, will play in his second Test after making a lively debut against Italy at King’s Park in June. He was injured in the Test and was ruled out of the rest of the Incoming Series.

Adriaan Strauss’s sublime form at hooker has again resulted in the world-class Bismarck du Plessis being selected on the replacement bench, but the competitive Sharks forward is certain to be used in the second half to earn his 50th Test cap.

“We’re fortunate that we are able to keep an unchanged team for this Test,” Meyer said in announcing the team in Buenos Aires yesterday.

“It will be a special day for Bismarck as he will become only the 24th South African to play in his 50th Test for the Springboks, and it’s very well deserved.

“Over the years, he’s always given 100% for the Boks and he will go down in history as one of the best hookers ever to play the game.

“We’re actually in a very privileged position to have two of the best hookers in world rugby in our system, in him and Adriaan. They bring out the best in each other and they will continue to grow as players and leaders in the team,” Meyer said.

Meyer said the Pumas, beaten 73-13 in Soweto at the weekend, would lift their game in Mendoza on Saturday and he is expecting a tough international.

“We experienced first-hand how passionate their supporters are and how they can lift their team,” said Meyer.

Last year, the Pumas drew 16-16 with the Springboks in the corresponding game.

“Our focus is on continuous improvement and we would like to keep on converting try-scoring opportunities, building on our good on-field discipline and improving our play at the breakdowns,” said Meyer.

Meanwhile, Argentina captain Felipe Contepomi said his players needed to show character in bouncing back from their heavy defeat in Soweto.

He said his team had been outclassed by the Boks, who were “unstoppable” once they had built up momentum.

“It was a very tough day at the office, we need to improve a lot. South Africa played a magnificent game. Once they got on the front foot it was very difficult to stop them and physically they closed us out of the game,” said Contepomi.

“We will have to prepare well,” he said.

Team-mate and outside centre Marcelo Bosch agreed that the Pumas had been “broken” by the Boks, but said the players were determined to put the nightmare behind them.

“We were totally broken by South Africa in all sectors of the game, a lot in attack, in defence, in strategy, in the drive,” Bosch said. “We need to get a bit better in everything, enter the field with conviction, enter with more confidence and at least hope to have a good game. Above all, we want to leave the field with our heads held high, knowing that we gave the best we could.”

Agustin Creevy, the replacement hooker who played for the last half-an-hour in Soweto, told reporters that he could not describe the strength of the Boks in a few words.

“But the truth is there’s a roughness [to their play]. They play a great game and, above all else, they are very strong [in contact areas].”

Saturday’s match kicks off at 9.10 pm (SA time).

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Gurthrö Steenkamp, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein.

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