Div won’t rest weary Bok troops

2010-09-01 00:00

COACH Peter de Villiers has refused to rest battle-weary troops and will field all his senior players in the Springboks’ final Tri-Nations Test against the Wallabies in Bloemfontein on Saturday evening.

De Villiers has made just one change to his starting line-up, recalling veteran Danie Rossouw at lock in place of the young Flip van der Merwe while the injury to flyhalf Butch James has resulted in the return of Gio Aplon to the bench.

James, playing off the bench, damaged a shoulder in making a tackle in the closing minutes of the weekend Test at Loftus. Fullback Frans Steyn will move to flyhalf if Morné Steyn is injured while the lively Aplon provides cover for the back three.

Van der Merwe and tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis, who picked up light injuries at Loftus, have both been cleared to play after undergoing medical assessments.

De Villiers said that the swapping of Van der Merwe for Rossouw would “suit the way the Boks would like to play” while countering what the Wallabies are expected to bring to the game.

This suggests that the Boks will concentrate on the tight, physical aspects of the game in an attempt to prevent it becoming loose and unstructured as it was in the opening quarter at Loftus.

De Villiers spoke of the players’ determination to keep improving in Bloemfontein.

“There is still the Mandela Cup to play for and, while we do not play only to win trophies, we do see them as just reward for hard work. We hope our hard work will pay off and we can celebrate a win at the weekend”.

De Villiers has said he wanted to rest senior players like John Smit, Victor Matfield and Bryan Habana, who have all battled with their form during the Tri-Nations, but said yesterday that they could produce one “big performance before they can enjoy a break”.

The contracted Boks are to be sent on a four-week conditioning camp after the Tri-Nations and some would be rested for the end-of-the-year Grand Slam tour to the UK.

De Villiers said Sharks front-rowers Beast Mtawarira and Bismarck du Plessis were not considered for the Test.

“I would rather they play a full game for the Sharks [against the Blue Buls in Pretoria on Saturday] than sat on the bench for the Boks.”

He said both players would be part of the Boks’ conditioning camp and would tour the UK.

De Villiers could not resist a sarcastic dig at his critics, saying that he would field his “best team” on the Grand Slam tour by resting John Smit, Victor Matfield and Bryan Habana, who “you guys [the media] have been telling me are not good enough”.

Vice-captain Victor Matfield, who also spoke to the media in Bloemfontein yesterday, said he had been encouraged by the improvement in the Boks’ forward play during their 44-31 win over Australia in Pretoria.

“The lineouts were better, but I was really impressed by how well we did at the breakdown. I was also very happy with the scrums, which were a good launching platform for us. We will continue to see where we can improve this week.

“The last hour at Loftus was a start and we have to build on that confidence.”

The Wallabies are considering three changes to their line-up for the Test. Stephen Moore is expected to regain his hooking spot and prop James Slipper could make his debut in the starting line-up. There has also been speculation that Western Force number eight Ben McCalman could replace Richard Brown.

The Wallabies yesterday became the first rugby team to train at Moses Mabhida Stadium — the football World Cup venue in Durban and, as they took to the field, a bungee jumper swung above their heads singing Waltzing Matilda.

Saturday’s Test kicks off at 5 pm and English referee Wayne Barnes will handle the game.

Springbok team

15. Francois Steyn; 14. JP Pietersen; 13. Jaque Fourie; 12. Jean de Villiers; 11. Bryan Habana; 10. Morné Steyn; 9. Francois Hougaard; 8. Pierre Spies; 7. Juan Smith; 6. Schalk Burger; 5. Victor Matfield; 4. Danie Rossouw; 3. Jannie du Plessis; 2. John Smit (capt); 1. Gurthrö Steenkamp.

Replacements: 16. Chiliboy Ralepelle; 17. CJ van der Linde; 18. Flip van der Merwe; 19. Ryan Kankowski; 20. Ricky Januarie; 21. Juan de Jongh; 22. Gio Aplon.

Likely Wallaby line-up: Kurtley Beale; James O’Connor; Adam Ashley-Cooper; Matt Giteau; Drew Mitchell; Quade Cooper; Will Genia; Richard Brown or Ben McCalman, David Pocock; Rocky Elsom (c); Nathan Sharpe; Dean Mumm; James Slipper; Stephen Moore; Benn Robinson.

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