Bakkies out of Boks squad

2011-10-06 00:00

BAKKIES Botha has almost certainly played his last Test for South Africa after the veteran lock suffered a recurrence of his Achilles’ tendon injury and was last night omitted from the Springbok team to face Australia in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals in Wellington on Sunday.

Botha, who has spoken all week about his excitement of facing the Wallabies in Sunday’s play-off after recovering from injury, again damaged his Achilles’ tendon when he landed awkwardly at a lineout practice.

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers confirmed Botha’s injury when he announced his match squad last night (early this morning in New Zealand), adding that the lock was now probably out of the World Cup. Botha is leaving Pretoria after the World Cup to play club rugby in France.

Beast Mtawaraira, the Sharks prop, is another who will miss Sunday’s international.

Gurthrö Steenkamp has been preferred at loosehead while CJ van der Linde, who can play on both sides of the scrum, will provide cover off the bench.

Captain John Smit, as expected, will start at hooker with Bismarck du Plessis playing off the bench while Jean de Villiers, predictably, replaces the injured Frans Steyn at inside centre in the third change to the team which beat Samoa last weekend.

The team is the most experienced in Springbok history with 836 Test caps which surpasses the previous record of 815 posted against Wales in South Africa’s opening match of the tournament.

The run-on team includes eight players who started in the 2007 Rugby World Cup final as well as three players who were part of the squad.

Only Pat Lambie, Morné Steyn and Heinrich Brüssow (of the starting team) were not involved in 2007 while Pierre Spies was originally selected, but had to withdraw due to illness.

Bismarck du Plessis joins Van der Linde, Willem Alberts, who will cover lock and loose forward, and flank Francois Louw as the forward replacements.

Srumhalf/wing Francois Hougaard, Butch James, who can play flyhalf and centre, and outside back Gio Aplon are the backline replacements.

De Villiers said that wing JP Pietersen was “still not 100% fit” although he had been included.

“We will give him time to prove his fitness. We have a little tiger in Hougaard. He will be the one that will step in there and I don’t think there will be a difference between the two.

“But JP knows the system so well and the guys inside him know him so well, so it will be good for us if he comes through.”

De Villiers said the team had both experience and a number of world-class players. “We have everything we want,” he added.

But De Villiers conceded that the Boks faced an excellent Wallaby team, who would be “favourites as Tri-Nations champions and after beating us four times in a row.”

“They are confrontational at forward and give them space and the ball and they will cut you to pieces. It is difficult to find any weakness with them so we just have to concentrate on what we want to do.”

De Villiers said that Botha had given him “the worst part of my day.”

“It was a sad for myself and for Bakkies. It might mean that his tournament is over.”

Sunday’s match kicks off at 7.00 am (SA time) and New Zealander Bryce Lawrence is the referee.

South African team:

15 Pat Lambie, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Heinrich Brüssow,, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Danie Rossouw, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 John Smit (captain), 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp.

Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Willem Alberts, 19 Francois Louw, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Butch James, 22 Gio Aplon

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