De Jong, Gurthrö included in Boks side

2012-11-15 00:00

SPRINGBOK coach Heyneke Meyer has this time kept to the script and made just the two expected changes to his team for Saturday’s international against Scotland at Murrayfield.

Centre Juan de Jongh and prop Gurthrö Steenkamp are included in the starting line-up at Murrayfield in the only two changes to the team which beat Ireland 16-12 in Dublin.

De Jongh, who scored the crucial try for Western Province against the Sharks in the Currie Cup final, takes over from Jaco Taute at outside centre, while Steenkamp replaces CJ van der Linde at loosehead prop. Van der Linde was a late replacement from Beast Mtawarira in Dublin. Both Van der Linde and Taute have been included on the bench.

“It’s great to have Gurthrö back. We wanted to select him last week, but unfortunately he was not 100% fit,” Meyer said yesterday.

“Gurthrö is experienced, knows the conditions well and is looking forward to returning to the Boks as he’s not played for South Africa for more than a year.”

Meyer said that De Jongh was in a similar position, having not started for the Boks since last year’s away leg of the Tri-Nations against New Zealand in Wellington.

“My plan has always been to give him a start on this tour. He’s been playing very well lately, and I’m excited to see what he brings to the team on Saturday.”

De Jongh has been overlooked by Meyer this year, but he told reporters that he always knew he was in the mix.

“Right from the beginning Heyneke told me where I stood and what I needed to do and I always understood the plan,” he said.

“This is a great opportunity to show what I can do. I know there are people who think maybe I haven’t been selected before because I might be a bit small [88 kg] for an international centre, but I will just go out and try and prove them wrong. I do feel confident after the performance in the Currie Cup final and it is now just up to me to ensure that I bring my A game on Saturday.”

Prop Heinke van der Merwe, a late replacement on the bench for Van der Linde in Dublin, has kept his place among the replacements with Pat Cilliers dropping out of the 23-man squad.

The Scots beat the Boks 21-17 when they met in the corresponding match in 2010 and Meyer, in selecting tired and sore Jannie du Plessis at tighthead and Jean de Villiers as captain at inside centre, is desperate for his team to end the year on a winning note.

“Our focus is on improving from our performance against Ireland last week,” said Meyer. “We saw the match between Scotland and New Zealand and that the Scots scored three tries. It was their first Test back since their season started and they will not be an easy opponents on Saturday. But we’ve also brushed off some cobwebs in Dublin and have had a good week on the training field.

“It will be a massive battle, but one we are looking forward to.”

Meyer admitted that he had wanted to involve more of the younger players.

“There were some tough calls in selection. I wanted to give some of the youngsters more Tests, but on the other hand, we haven’t had a lot of continuity in selection this year and we respect Scotland.

“Also, when I’ve changed the backline in the past, our defence has suffered and you saw against the All Blacks that Scotland can really ask questions of your defence.”

There have been widespread calls for Taute to be included at fullback and Elton Jantjies as back-up to flyhalf Pat Lambie.

Springbok team – 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermuelen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp.

Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Heinke van der Merwe, 18 CJ van der Linde, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Morne Steyn, 22 Jaco Taute, 23 Lwazi Mvovo

Kick-off: 4.30 pm (SA time).

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