JP to mentor rookie

2014-06-05 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The Sharks’ JP Pietersen will play a dual role during the Springboks’ match against a World team at Newlands on Saturday.

The winger will have to play outside centre and at the same time act as coach for new winger Cornal Hendricks.

Pietersen, who as a result of his obligations to Japan will not be available to for the Rugby Championship, will seemingly be expected to mentor the man who will succeed him.

“These are big boots to fill because JP is an amazing player. I would like to use this game to see what Cornal can do at this level,” Bok coach Heyneke Meyer said yesterday.

“Cornal has been very impressive during the Super series and has played very well for the Boks Sevens against the best opposition in the series.

“It is now up to him to show that he would be at home in this position week after week. I strongly believe he will be.”

While Pietersen has not started in any other position than that of wing during his 51 Test matches, he played well when the Sharks last year used him as outside centre during a few matches.

“I was not aware of it but JP actually prefers to play outside centre. He often played in that position in Japan and would therefore be able to handle it,” said Meyer.

“He has always been brilliant as a wing for South Africa but in the centre position he would more often get his hands on the ball. Just like Jaque Fourie, JP is big and strong. He is also very experienced.”

Meyer’s decision was, however, bad news for Juan de Jongh, who during the past two months excelled as outside centre for the Stormers.

“Juan de Jongh almost made the team,” said Meyer.

“This is, however, not an official Test match and presents me with the opportunity to try something new.”

Meyer has selected his strongest available forward players and in Ruan Pienaar and Morné and Frans Steyn, his most experienced inside backline.

If he had the services of the injured Jean de Villiers and if Frans Steyn had not been playing for the Boks two seasons ago, Johan Goosen would probably have been his first choice as flyhalf.

Morné Steyn does not need someone on his outside to assist him with the Boks’ system of play and for that reason he will wear the number 10 jersey.

Meyer also dispelled the perception that Steyn has become unpopular with his Stade Francais French club.

“The overseas clubs take good care of our players and the majority of them use a rotation system. Morné has had problems with a sore back as a result of which he had a lighter workload. It was not a question that they regarded him as not good enough,” said Meyer.

There is, however, little doubt that Goosen and others on the reserve bench will play important roles.

Bakkies Botha will for instance start as the number four lock but the plan is that Flip van der Merwe will take over that role for the full second half. The same situation will take place at scrumhalf where Pienaar will start and Fourie du Preez will be on the reserve bench.

Springbok: Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks, JP Pietersen, Frans Steyn, Bryan Habana, Morné Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw, Victor Matfield (c), Bakkies Botha, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: Schalk Brits, Gurthrö Steenkamp, Coenie Oosthuizen, Flip van der Merwe, Schalk Burger, Fourie du Preez, Johan Goosen, Lwazi Mvovo.

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