Bismark du Plessis in for Boks against All Blacks

2014-10-01 14:56

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South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer has made one change to his starting line-up to face New Zealand in their Rugby Championship clash in Johannesburg on Saturday but he may yet be forced into making another.

Bismark du Plessis, controversially sent off in New Zealand last year, takes over at hooker from Adriaan Strauss in what is otherwise an unchanged side from the one that defeated Australia 28-10 in Cape Town on the weekend.

However, there remains a question mark over the fitness of number eight Duane Vermeulen, who will be given as much time as possible to recover from a rib cartilage injury sustained against the Wallabies.

Should he fail a late fitness test, he will be replaced from the bench by veteran Schalk Burger, whose position among the replacements will go to Warren Whiteley.

“It’s been good to build some form of continuity and we’ll give Duane as much time as possible before making a final call,” Meyer said today.

“He’s been one of our best players in the last couple of weeks and is responding well to medical treatment. Schalk’s impact last weekend was massive, but so was the rest of the bench and we’ll be looking for more of the same on Saturday.

“At hooker, we’ve decided to rotate Bismarck with Adriaan Strauss, both of whom must rate among the best hookers in the world at the moment.”

Meyer said that the Springboks would need to be at their best, defend strongly and execute their attacking plays as well as possible if they were going to be victorious against a New Zealand team beaten just once since lifting the 2011 World Cup.

“We’re well aware of the massive task that awaits us,” Meyer said.

“There are areas of the game we know we have to improve on against New Zealand. We’d like to go out there and enjoy the occasion and carry on where we left off against Australia.

“Hopefully we can get quick ball, like we did towards the end of the Test in Cape Town.”

The match will be Springbok captain Jean de Villiers’ 50th appearance in the Rugby Championship, the most by a South African.

Team: Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks, Jan Serfontein, Jean de Villiers (captain), Bryan Habana, Handrè Pollard, Francois Hougaard, Duane Vermeulen/Schalk Burger, Teboho Mohoje, Marcell Coetzee, Victor Matfield, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane, Marcel van der Merwe, Bakkies Botha, Schalk Burger/Warren Whiteley, Cobus Reinach, Pat Lambie and JP Pietersen.

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