Meyer opts for continuity in Bok team

2013-08-15 00:00

SPRINGBOK coach Heyneke Meyer has opted for continuity and will play the world-class Fourie du Preez and Bismarck du Plessis off the bench in the Rugby Championship opener against Argentina at Soccer City in Soweto on Saturday evening.

There are four changes — two in the starting line-up — to the match squad that beat Samoa in June and seven of the 23-man squad are now based overseas.

Both changes are in the pack with Duane Vermeulen returning from an extended lay-off to take over from the injured Pierre Spies at number eight, while lock Juandré Kruger predictably swops places with Flip van der Merwe.

But Meyer has decided against rushing back veteran scrumhalf Du Preez, now based in Japan, and combative hooker Du Plessis, who recently returned from an extended injury break.

The overseas-based players in the 23-man squad only joined the Bok squad at the weekend, disrupting the Springboks’ preparations and this obviously influenced selection.

“Continuity has been key for us this year and that is why we’ve opted not to make too many changes to the team,” said Meyer. “We will only have three days of preparations while the Pumas have been together for three weeks.

“It’s great to have Duane [Vermeulen] back at number eight, while Juandré [Kruger] has been doing great work in the line-outs all season.”

Meyer said that one of the strengths of the team was the experience on the bench where Flip van der Merwe joins veterans Du Preez, prop Gurthrö Steenkamp and the highly-respected Bismarck du Plessis.

The seven players who are now with foreign clubs are Bryan Habana, Morné Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Francois Louw, Kruger, Du Preez and Steenkamp.

“It’s a marvellous occasion and special to be part of a unique day where we can all celebrate the contributions former president Mandela made to South Africa,” Meyer said of Saturday’s doubleheader at Soccer City.

“It was clear last year that the Argentinians are not in the Rugby Championship to make up the numbers. We will have to be focused on doing the little things right. They’ve been together for some time now and will be a tough opponents on Saturday.

“We need to put into practice what we’ve been working on and continue where we left off against Samoa, looking for try- scoring opportunities in the process,” Meyer said.

Meanwhile, Argentina believe Bok flank Francois Louw will be their greatest threat on Saturday.

Two of Louw’s team-mates at English club Bath — hooker Eusebio Guinazu and wing Horacio Agulla — are in the Puma squad for the Test.

Guinazu said the emphasis would be on negating Louw at the breakdown.

“You just can’t let him get over the ball, you can’t give him a chance because he will punish you. We’ve just got to make sure that our ball-carriers stay on their feet for as long as possible, that they don’t get isolated and allow Flo to come into play.”

The Pumas suffered a major blow when the world-class backrower Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe was ruled out with a calf injury. Centre Felipe Contepomi will take over the captaincy.

The Test kicks off at 5 pm on Saturday and New Zealander Chris Pollock will be the referee.


South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Gurthrö Steenkamp, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Fourie du Preez, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein.

Argentina: 15. Juan Martin Hernandez, 14. Gonzalo Camacho, 13. Marcelo Bosch, 12. Felipe Contepomi (captain), 11. Juan Imhoff, 10. Nicolas Sanchez, 9. Martin Landajo, 8. Leonardo Senatore, 7. Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6. Pablo Matera, 5. Patricio Albacete, 4. Manuel Carizza, 3. Matias Diaz, 2. Eusebio Guinazu, 1. Juan Figallo.

Replacements: 16. Agustin Creevy, 17. Nahuel Lobo, 18. Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19. Mariano Galarza, 20. Julio Farias Cabello, 21. Tomas Cubelli, 22. Santiago Fernandez, 23. Horacio Agulla

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