Habana ruled out, Meyer goes shopping

2012-10-29 00:00

RECORD-BREAKING wing Bryan Habana has been ruled out of the Springbok tour of the UK while coach Heyneke Meyer has been shopping on the international market to plug other gaps in his 31-man squad.

Habana went down with an injured knee early in Saturday’s Currie Cup final, and scans yesterday ruled him out of the three-Test tour which opens with Ireland in Dublin on November 10.

Raymond Rule, the exciting SA U20 wing, will replace Habana while Meyer has called up the overseas-based players, the dynamic Saracens hooker Schalk Britz and the 31-year-old veteran loosehead Gurthrö Steenkamp, who now plays for Toulouse.

The two take over from the injured Tiaan Liebenberg and Coenie Oosthuizen and there are four European-based players in the tour party with Boks, Ulster scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar and Bath flank Francois Louw, joining Britz and Steenkamp in the tour party.

Not only would these players add experience to the young Bok squad, but they are fresh at the start of a new season and well acclimatised to the wet, heavy conditions.

Meyer’s favourite Blue Bulls players, flyhalf Morné Steyn and fullback Zane Kirchner, have been unconvincing this year, but they remain in the squad.

Sharks’ Pat Lambie has again been named as a fullback, but the good news is that Meyer is considering him as a flyhalf option and he could start at 10 in Dublin ahead of Steyn and Conrad Jantjies.

Meyer said last week that he had been impressed by Lambie’s recent form, and his improved tactical kicking, adding that he is now a contender for the flyhalf position.

Jaco Taute, who played out of position at centre in the Boks’ last two Tests, would be a popular replacement for Kirchner at fullback.

Jean de Villiers will lead the squad which includes five new caps in Rhule, scrumhalf Jano Vermaak, lock Franco van der Merwe, who will join the Sharks next year, centre Lionel Mapoe and flank Arno Botha.

Two Springboks who missed the entire Rugby Championship because of injury, JP Pietersen and Chiliboy Ralepelle, join the squad.

The Sharks in-form backrower Keegan Daniel has again been overlooked with Meyer preferring big, bruising loose forwards for the heavy going.

The squad assembles in Cape Town on Wednesday and Meyer said yesterday it was not easy to select the squad in the light of the high number of players unavailable due to injury.

Injured players who have been part of the Springbok squad this year, but were not considered for selection, are Oosthuizen, Bismarck du Plessis, Liebenberg, Andries Bekker, Siya Kolisi, Jacques Potgieter, Pierre Spies, Johan Goosen, Frans Steyn and Habana. Schalk Burger, Juan Smith and Heinrich Brüssow are sidelined.

“We’ve got a settled core of players,” said Meyer. “Gurthrö and Schalk [Britz] are experienced front rankers who have played for South Africa before and know the overseas conditions.”

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