Bismarck is back for Boks

2013-06-13 00:00

IT has been a long 10 months but the Sharks’ world-class hooker Bismarck du Plessis is finally back in top flight rugby and has been included in the Springbok squad to face Scotland in Nelspruit on Saturday evening.

Du Plessis went down with a serious knee ligament injury in the Rugby Championship match against Argentina in Cape Town last August. But, following months of rehabilitation, three club games in Durban and numerous training sessions with the Sharks and Springboks, Du Plessis has been cleared to play.

“It’s great to have Bismarck back in the mix,” coach Heyneke Meyer said yesterday. “He is a warrior, so the plan is to bring him in from the bench on Saturday.

“Team doctor Craig Roberts is 100% sure that he can last for 80 minutes if he needs to. I’m happy to have him back.”

Du Plessis will join the uncapped pair of backrower Siya Kolisi and scrumhalf Piet van Zyl on the bench.

There are two changes to the team from last week and both were forced on the Springbok coach. Scrumhalf Jano Vermaak (hamstring) is replaced by Ruan Pienaar while Sharks flank Marcell Coetzee takes over from Francois Louw, who has a weekend wedding date.

Meyer, in spite of suggesting that he would mix and match some players this weekend, has opted instead for continuity.

He told reporters last week that the Bulls’ Morné Steyn and Pat Lambie would share flyhalf duties during the Incoming Series. But, with Steyn in impressive form against Italy and the final round of Tests being played at Steyn’s home ground of Loftus on June 22, it is unlikely that Lambie will play more than a bit part during this series.

“I want to keep some form of continuity and I thought we played some of our best rugby in quite some time against Italy,” Meyer said at the team announcement yesterday.

“There is no use in getting those new caps in and then taking them out after one game and after they have done well. I especially want to keep continuity among the backs because I thought they were good against Italy.”

Du Plessis takes over from the in-form hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle on the bench while Van Zyl and Kolisi replace the promoted Pienaar and Coetzee.

“There is a lot of talent out there, but the challenge is to pick the right mix and get the balance between great attacking rugby and defence,” Meyer said.

“It is encouraging to have this sort of continuity as we prepare for a Test where the focus is on ourselves and on improving in certain areas from last week,” said Meyer.

The match kicks off at 5.15 pm with Romain Poite (France) the referee.

South Africa: 15. Willie le Roux, 14. Bryan Habana, 13. JJ Engelbrecht, 12. Jean de Villiers (captain), 11. Bjorn Basson, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Ruan Pienaar, 8. Pierre Spies, 7. Arno Botha, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Juandré Kruger, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Adriaan Strauss, 1. Tendai Mtawarira Replacements: 16. Bismarck du Plessis, 17. Trevor Nyakane, 18. Coenie Oosthuizen, 19. Flip van der Merwe, 20. Siya Kolisi, 21. Piet van Zyl, 22. Pat Lambie, 23. Jan Serfontein.

Curtain-raiser: Samoa vs Italy, 2.15 pm. Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa).

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