Smith and Du Preez sent home

2008-11-20 00:00

The Springboks take the field against England at Twickenham without the two players who were most instrumental in their 36-0 win over the Lions in a World Cup pool match 14 months ago.

Scrumhalf Fourie du Preez was the man of the match in Paris that night, orchestrating matters like a general from the base of the scrum and around the fringes, while flanker Juan Smith was the scorer of the first try and a huge influence in a dominant Bok pack.

All week it has been clear that Du Preez’s availability was touch and go. He pulled a quadricep muscle before last week’s match against Scotland at Murrayfield. So the Boks’ management won’t be delighted that Du Preez yesterday threw in the towel. The decision to omit the experienced Butch James from the initial tour squad could come back to haunt them.

It was clear last week that Ruan Pienaar’s lack of experience at No. 10 is problematic when Du Preez is not around.

Smith sustained a blow to the head in the 14-10 win at Murrayfield, where he was man of the match. “Juan unfortunately picked up concussion so he is flying home with Fourie du Preez,” said coach Peter de Villiers.

With Danie Rossouw coming in as tighthead flank and Ricky Januarie at scrumhalf as the replacement for Du Preez, it also means that there could be a problem in the key linking area between forwards and backs.

Injuries have obviously forced changes to the initial plan, but it is hard to escape the feeling that the Boks might have been stronger for this match had both Jaque Fourie and Frans Steyn been accommodated in the starting mix somewhere.

Meanwhile, the more experienced Boks, who were not here two years ago because of Jake White’s decision to send an understrength team on tour, are determined to notch their first win at Twickenham.

“We had a young side last time we were here, so the guys who missed out then are all determined to get to feel what it is like to beat England at Twickenham,” said captain John Smit.

Springboks: Conrad Jantjes, JP Pietersen, Adrian Jacobs, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana, Ruan Pienaar, Ricky Januarie, Pierre Spies, Danie Rossouw, Schalk Burger, Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Jannie du Plessis, John Smit (captain), Beast Mtawarira.

Reserves: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Brian Mujati, Andries Bekker, Ryan Kankowski, Heinrich Brussow, Frans Steyn, Jaque Fourie.

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