Habana ruled out of UK tour

2010-11-17 00:00

BRYAN Habana is out of the Grand Slam tour and the 24-year-old Sharks wing, Lwazi Mvovo, will replace him in the Springbok team to face Scotland in Edinburgh on Saturday.

Habana fractured a bone in his left hand during morning Bok practice yesterday when he collided with Morné Steyn and he will return to South Africa later this week.

Mvovo, who will win his first Test cap on Saturday, was initially named on the bench and centre Adi Jacobs will now join the replacements.

Habana’s injury reduces the tour squad to 27 players after the suspended Chiliboy Ralepelle and Bjorn Basson, another wing, returned to South Africa on Monday. A decision on a wing replacement is expected later in the week.

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers yesterday took the conservative path when he named his team to face Scotland and two Sharks players suffered.

De Villiers was forced into a fourth change by the Habana injury and there was one positional switch to the starting team that edged out Wales 29-25 at the weekend.

Fullback Zane Kirchner, scrumhalf Francois Hougaard and number eight Ryan Kankowski have all been included in the starting line-up, while Gio Aplon has been moved from fullback to replace Basson on the wing.

Kirchner is promoted from the bench to fullback, where he played and was discarded during the Tri-Nations.

Hougaard, after a lively final quarter in Cardiff, takes over from Ruan Pienaar at scrumhalf while Pierre Spies, the athletic number eight who has shown encouraging form on tour, is rested for Sharks’ back-rower Kankowski.

Free State hooker Adriaan Strauss, in place of Ralepelle, and Jacobs join the bench.

It was expected that De Villiers, facing a team beaten 49-3 by the All Blacks last Saturday, would rest a number of weary senior players ahead of the tough England game, while testing a couple of his younger players ahead of the World Cup.

There has been grumbling that senior Blue Bull players are influencing selection and, whether this is true or not, De Villiers has opted for a safety first approach.

Certainly he has contradicted his fellow national selectors, Peter Jooste and Ian McIntosh, in using late additions to the tour squad, Bulls’ players Kirchner and Deon Stegmann, ahead of original selections.

Two Sharks, flyhalf Pat Lambie and flank Willem Alberts, who were expected to start at Murrayfield, both remain on the bench.

Lambie has twice been thrown in the deep-end in the tense final moments of tight Test matches, but deserves a start at flyhalf while Alberts, who made an immediate impact in Cardiff, did more than enough to retain his place ahead of Stegmann.

It certainly would have been worthwhile to see how a shift in tactics, and the introduction of a more attacking, ball-carrying approach with Lambie at flyhalf, would have worked against the Scots.

De Villiers, in spite of staying with the tried and tested, said he was looking ahead to the World Cup.

“Ryan [Kankowski] has played for us before. He is one of two talented eighthmen in the squad and we wanted to give him an opportunity ahead of the World Cup.

“We know what we have in Pierre [Spies] and this is the best time to rest him. Francois Hougaard showed in the second half in Cardiff why we selected him in the Tri-Nations.”

Bok captain Victor Matfield said that complacency would not be a problem against Scotland — “not the way we have been playing.”

“We’ve not been happy with the way we’ve played. It helps that we’re winning again and we are enjoying the tour, but there’s a lot of hard work to do.”

Matfield said the Scots, suited by the new laws, would play an expansive game on Saturday and provide a tough test.

Springbok team:

15. Zane Kirchner, 14. Gio Aplon, 13. Frans Steyn, 12. Jean de Villiers, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Francois Hougaard, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Juan Smith, 6. Deon Stegmann, 5. Victor Matfield (c), 4. Bakkies Botha, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Beast Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16. Adriaan Strauss, 17. CJ van der Linde, 18. Flip van der Merwe, 19. Willem Alberts, 20. Ruan Pienaar, 21. Pat Lambie, 22. Adi Jacobs.

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