Boks’ starting line-up may see four changes

2013-08-14 00:00

THERE could be as many as four changes to the Springbok starting line-up for Saturday evening’s Rugby Championship opener against Argentina in Soweto if coach Heyneke Meyer opts for quality rather than form.

The Springboks last saw action on June 22 when they beat Samoa 56-23 in the final of the Incoming Series at Loftus.

Scrumhalf Fourie du Preez and hooker Bismarck du Plessis, both world-class players when fit and firing, French-based lock Juandré Kruger and number eight Duane Vermeulen could be included in the starting line-up.

Du Preez, who has been playing his rugby in Japan, is short of match practice but Meyer and backline coach Ricardo Loubscher have been talking him up since he joined the squad this week and he could take over from Ruan Pienaar at the base of the scrum.

Du Plessis is also short of game time since undergoing knee surgery and his replacement in the Bok side, lively Free State hooker Adriaan Strauss, was one of the form players in Super Rugby. It is expected that the competitive Du Plessis will start on Saturday with Strauss taking over when the Sharks hooker runs out of puff.

Lock Kruger, now playing in France, is likely to take over from Flip van der Merwe to help boost the Springbok line-out while Vermeulen, although he missed the Super Rugby campaign because of injury, is an obvious replacement for the injured (and disappointing) Pierre Spies.

Du Preez has not played for the Boks since they lost to the Wallabies in the 2011 RWC quarter-finals and Meyer said the veteran had already made his presence felt in the squad.

“I have been very impressed with Fourie du Preez. I always knew he was a world-class player and he hasn’t lost anything. He still has all the neat touches and I am very happy that I brought him back in. You could also see the way he spoke to the youngsters. He just brings a steady vibe to the team.”

Backline coach Loubscher agreed and said yesterday that Du Preez’s return had been a major boost.

“Fourie’s a world-class player and there’s no need to elaborate on his credentials. He has just slotted right back in. I was impressed. I thought he did really well in training and he brings great experience to the team. He makes it much easier for me as the backline coach.”

Loubscher said he was also excited at the prospect of seeing Du Preez partnering flyhalf Morné Steyn at halfback again.

Team doctor Craig Roberts said that the only injury concern was Beast Mtawarira, who had a mild hamstring strain.

“I wish I could start every week with a report like this,” he said.

Bok scrum coach, former French prop Pieter de Villiers, said the new scrum laws would test the cohesion and endurance of packs.

A new engagement sequence requires the front-rows to bind before engaging the opposition, reducing the impact of the “hit”.

“It’s going to be a learning process for players worldwide. It’s more about sound technique and endurance now and it’s more important for your whole pack to work together.”


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

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