Marcell Coetzee dropped for Dunedin

2012-09-13 00:00

MARCELL Coetzee, the most diligent and industrious Springbok forward this season, has been dropped for Saturday’s Rugby Championship international against the All Blacks in Dunedin.

Coach Heyneke Meyer, a firm believer in continuity, has predictably selected conservatively, naming an unchanged and unimpressive backline and making two changes to the pack following the defeat by the Wallabies in Perth.

One was forced on him by the suspension of lock Eben Etzebeth, and Flip van der Merwe takes over in the second row, while Francois Louw is preferred to the 106 kg Coetzee, the Springbok with the highest tackle count this season, as the openside flank.

Louw, at 112 kg, joins Duane Vermeulen (116 kg) and Willem Alberts (119 kg) in a massive if pedestrian backrow and they could be exposed by the mobile All Blacks who will play at pace on the hard, dry surface at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.

Meyer says he was looking at Louw’s fetching ability rather than his bulk in making the change.

“The New Zealanders are good on the ground, which is why we decided to go for a specialist openside flank in Francois,” said Meyer.

“I think Marcell is playing great rugby. He has been the guy with the highest work-rate this year, but in this match we feel he will be more useful as an impact option. Marcell will get game time but it is a horses-for-courses approach.”

Meyer said he was impressed with Louw’s contribution in the last quarter of the Test against Australia at the weekend and the former WP backrower would add experience to the team.

“Even with an experienced pack, it is a challenge to play New Zealand. It is the ultimate challenge for any player, especially a Springbok, to play New Zealand in New Zealand. I know people don’t give us a chance, but I believe that this team is growing. We will definitely have to step up on Saturday, but I have confidence in them.”

Louw, who was playing his rugby for Bath in England less than a fortnight ago, told reporters he was looking forward to challenging All Black captain Richie McCaw, the top openside flank in world rugby.

“It will be a huge battle at the breakdown. McCaw is a good player on the ground. But we have trained well this week and I’m looking forward to the game.”

Meyer has made four changes on the bench with Coetzee joining loosehead prop Dean Greyling, lock Andries Bekker and centre Juan de Jongh among the replacements.

Jannie du Plessis has been selected at tighthead prop despite struggling with a hamstring niggle and he faces a fitness test tomorrow. Pat Cilliers will start at tighthead if Du Plessis withdraws while young Frans Malherbe, who was this week rushed to Auckland to join the squad, will only be involved if both Du Plessis and Cilliers fail to recover in time.

Greyling will be on the bench to provide prop cover, while Bekker takes over from Van der Merwe and De Jongh replaces Lwazi Mvovo on the bench.

In spite of calls for Meyer to add some freshness and creativity to the back division, he has passed up the opportunity to make a changes at flyhalf and fullback where Morné Steyn and Zane Kirchner have been retained.

There are signs that Meyer is considering using their young replacements, Johan Goosen and Pat Lambie, early in the second half and once the early pressure has lifted.

The All Blacks will announce their team today. The Test kicks off at 9.35 am on Saturday.

Springboks: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jean de Villiers (c), 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Beast Mtawarira. Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Dean Greyling, 18 Andries Bekker, 19 Marcell Coetzee, 20 Johan Goosen, 21 Juan de Jongh, 22 Pat Lambie.

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