Europe good for Boks

2014-06-12 00:00

HE had become a better prop in France and believes the more physical style of rugby being played in the Northern Hemisphere is good preparation for Test rugby.

These are Gurthrö Steenkamp’s views after he was included for his 50th Test in the Springbok team who will play against Wales in Durban on Saturday.

Steenkamp said it would count in the Boks’ favour that several of the Boks play their rugby overseas and would know the Welsh from club matches.

Although the Toulouse prop will play off the bench as an impact player, he could make the difference that was needed when the Boks did not scrum well against the World XV in Cape Town last week.

Steenkamp is one of three changes announced by Bok coach Heyneke Meyer yesterday.

Centre Jan Serfontein, who has been on the Bok bench nine times, will get his first cap, while Fourie du Preez will play scrumhalf.

Meyer said Du Preez was not match fit last week, which was why he sat on the bench.

Serfontein replaces Frans Steyn, who withdrew himself from the Bok squad on Tuesday while he has an issue with the SA Rugby Union. Du Preez replaces Ruan Pienaar.

The young lock Lood de Jager may also get a Test in the place of Flip van der Merwe, who this weekend has his brother’s wedding to attend.

Steenkamp, who started in Beast Mtawarira’s place, said he did not think he would play 50 Tests.

“After the previous World Cup many of us went overseas and we accepted it was our last match in the Bok jersey.

“Fortunately Heyneke is giving us another chance to be part of the Bok squad and we are grateful for this. We enjoy every match as if it is the last one,” he said.

Steenkamp’s inclusion means the Bok front row will not lose too much experience in Mtawarira, who has played 53 Tests. The Bok hooker Bismarck du Plessis has played 57 Tests and his brother Jannie 51.

Steenkamp said playing in France quickly forced him out of his comfort zone, because players there compete in several series.

“In Europe we give more attention to detail in the scrums. I think I have become a better scrum worker since I started playing there.

“You learn new things — a new way of exercising and the way of playing in Europe. The game is a little more physical there. It prepares you better for Test rugby, while Super Rugby is faster with less contact.”

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp

Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Johan Goosen, 23 Lwazi Mvovo.

Wales: TBA.

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