Boks beef up the pack

2013-09-05 00:00

SELECTION at fullback tells the story, and the Springboks have plumped for reliability while the Wallabies have opted for their most dangerous attacker in naming their teams for Saturday’s Rugby Championship international in Brisbane.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has predictably introduced three new faces — and made two positional changes — to the team that stuttered to an unconvincing win over the Pumas last month.

Fullback Zane Kirchner returns for his first Test since November last year, taking over from Willie le Roux, who switches to the wing in place of Bjorn Basson.

Hooker Bismarck du Plessis and lock Flip van der Merwe dislodge Adriaan Strauss and Juandré Kruger in the pack.

The second positional switch sees Bryan Habana moving from right to left wing.

Meyer, in an audio link-up yesterday, said that influential lock Eben Etzebeth was a doubtful starter because of a tummy bug.

“I’m confident our medical staff will get him through Friday’s fitness test, but otherwise Willem [Alberts] will move from flank to lock with Marcell Coetzee coming into the backrow.”

This would be a major blow for the Boks and would leave them a jumper short of a decent lineout.

Kirchner is a defensively sound fullback, but he offers less on attack than Pat Lambie. Meyer defended the selection of his old Bulls fullback.

“Zane does not get the credit he deserves. I know there is a perception that we want to play conservatively when he is the fullback, but it isn’t true. He can attack and score tries. He is a quality player.”

Meyer says he regards Lambie primarily as a flyhalf.

“I still believe that is his position, but he is a great guy to have on the bench, because he can cover 10, 12 and 15,” Meyer said.

Meyer is also looking to Du Plessis and Van der Merwe to add a hard edge to the forward play.

He said that the Boks would miss Kruger’s lineout ability, but Van der Merwe would add value in other (physical) areas.

“If we are going to progress as a team, we need to start winning away from home and Saturday’s Test provides this challenge,” said Meyer.

While the Boks’ selections are aimed at beefing up the pack and bolstering the defence, the Wallabies have made their intentions clear by adding to the attacking capabilities of an exciting backline.

Flyhalf Quade Cooper has been recalled by coach Ewen Mckenzie who has also shifted the impressive Israel Folau from wing to fullback.

In two other changes, Sekope Kepu is included at tighthead prop in place of Ben Alexander while Nick Cummins is Folau’s replacement on the wing.

“We have very specific thoughts about how we want to play this Test and feel Quade Cooper is best suited to carrying that out,” McKenzie said.

“He’s been part of our matchday squad in both games so far, but his role now changes from being a finisher to starting the game. We feel that role will suit how we want to play.

“He is also an experienced and successful Test player, which is handy to have against a hardened Springbok outfit.”

The tall Folau, a former Rugby League player, has played all of his five Tests on the wing, but he will be more involved playing at the back.

“Israel has played more fullback than on the wing so he will undoubtedly feel comfortable playing the position,” McKenzie said.

“He has looked impressive at training and we think he will add value with how we want to approach the game.”

The 1,93 metre Folau is delighted to be back at fullback.

“The Springboks like to kick a lot so I will get my hands on the ball. I think it’s easier to slot into the line playing at fullback.”


Australia: Israel Folau, Nick Cummins, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Christian Lealiifano, James O’Connor, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Ben Mowen, Michael Hooper, Scott Fardy; James Horwill, Rob Simmons, Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore, James Slipper. Replacements: Saia Faingaa, Scott Sio, Ben Alexander, Kane Douglas, Jake Schatz, Nic White, Matt Toomua, Jesse Mogg.

South Africa: Zane Kirchner, Willie le Roux, JJ Engelbrecht, Jean de Villiers (capt), Bryan Habana, Morné Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw, Flip van der Merwe, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Gurthro Steenkamp, Coenie Oosthuizen, Juandré Kruger, Siya Kolisi, Jano Vermaak, Pat Lambie, Jan Serfontein.

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland).

Kick-off: 12.05 pm (SA time).

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