First outing for Gio Aplon

2011-09-20 00:00

SPRINGBOK coach Peter de Villiers had mixed and matched in making five changes to his starting line-up for Thursday’s Rugby World Cup outing against Namibia at the North Harbour Stadium in Auckland.

Two of the changes are on the wing where De Villiers has given a first outing at the world cup to the elusive Gio Aplon and Bryan Habana returns from injury.

Francois Hougaard, used off the bench on the wing against both Wales and Fiji, returns to his usual position at scrumhalf while flank Willem Alberts and tighthead prop CJ van der Linde, replacements in previous games, are given their first starts.

Dropping out of the starting line-up, which thumped Fiji, are wings JP Pietersen and Odwa Ndungane, scrumhalf Fourie du Preez, flank Heinrich Brüssow and tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis.

Du Preez and Brüssow have dropped to the bench while Pietersen and Jannie du Plessis, both impressive against Fiji, are being rested.

Hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle was included in a match 22 for the first time when he was named to the bench in place of Bismarck du Plessis, who is being rested, although he has only played off the bench in the two previous outings.

Flyhalf Morné Steyn, who missed training yesterday because of flu, has nevertheless been named at flyhalf, but four others, hamstrung locks Victor Matfield and Johann Muller, centre Jean de Villiers and flyhalf Butch James, were not considered because of injury.

De Villiers said his “biggest challenge” is managing the players.

“We have had two bruising encounters and injuries are a big problem.

“We want to have 30 fit players by the time we reach the play-offs and we have to manage them carefully,” he added.

De Villiers said the selection is based on doing what was for “the common good” of the team and not in the interests of any individual player.

“If I hear of any player placing himself above the team, I’ll send him home immediately,” he said.

While the Springboks are expected to be far too strong for their near-neighbours Namibia, captain John Smit said the challenge is to keep improving.

“There are areas where we can improve and that will be the focus against Namibia, trying to perfect the basics and progress from one week to the next,” Smit said.

De Villiers has named a team crowded with exciting young attackers, with Pat Lambie retained at fullback and joining Aplon, the in-form midfield pairing of Jaque Fourie and Frans Steyn and the energetic Hougaard in a talented backline.

With both lineout specialists Matfield and Muller still sidelined by injury, Danie Rossouw and Bakkies Botha will again lock the scrum while Alberts, in for Brussow on the flank, adds to the physicality of the pack.

Thursday’s match kicks off at 10 am South African time.

South Africa team:

15 Pat Lambie, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Willem Alberts, 5 Danie Rossouw, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 CJ van der Linde, 2 Jon Smit (captain), Gurthro Steenkamp.

Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Francois Louw, 19 Heinrich Brüssow, 20 Fourie du Preez, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Juan de Jongh.

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