Van der Merwe could start for SA

2010-07-15 00:00

BLUE Bulls lock Flip van der Merwe, who has been flown to New Zealand as a replacement for the suspended Bakkies Botha, could be rushed into the starting line-up for Saturday’s second Tri-Nations Test against the All Blacks in Wellington.

Van der Merwe could take over from Danie Rossouw, who suffered a strained calf muscle at practice yesterday and is now doubtful for the Test.

Rossouw, who has played much of his rugby for both the Bulls and the Boks in the shadow of Bakkies Botha, is hoping to win his 50th Test cap on Saturday and the medical staff are hoping that he will still pass a late fitness test.

The Boks yesterday also lost tighthead Jannie du Plessis with a calf injury and the Sharks prop is returning home to Durban.

It was initially thought that the injury to Du Plessis, who played at Eden Park at the weekend, was not serious and that he would be able to stay on the tour. But it has now been decided to send him home for treatment.

Rossouw, who has also played for the Boks at flank and number eight, told the media that he should have received 50 Test caps earlier.

“It’s also partly my own fault. Sometimes I have not been in the best shape physically or mentally, and then you get dropped. There was also one tour where I got injured the day before we flew out.”

Rossouw said that the All Blacks willnot enjoy the freedom of the park as was the case in Auckland.

“Mentally we have to pitch up this time and be right physically. We will definitely stand up and give as good as we get this time.

“It was frustrating to sit on the sideline last week, even though you know the guys on the field are doing their best. But the All Blacks dominated us, they were more physical, especially in the tackles.

“If they get momentum like they did last week and we miss first-time tackles and gaps start to open, then the All Blacks become very dangerous,” Rossouw said.

If Rossouw is ruled out, coach Peter de Villiers faces a choice between the lanky Andries Bekker, who is on the bench, and Van der Merwe as his second-row replacement.

The All Blacks are still waiting on a number of fitness reports before naming their side.

Captain Richie McCaw said yesterday that the Test on Saturday will be far more challenging than the first one.

“The reality is that the Springboks are going to be so much better this week. There is no doubt about that,” he said.

“The challenge is that because things went well we don’t expect things to be the same this week. There will be periods in the game that will be harder than last week.

“But we will make sure we have the same intensity. The good thing about last week is that we were all on the same page.

“We knew what we were doing and we executed pretty well. There is absolutely no reason why we can’t repeat that performance.”

The Test kicks off at 9.35 am and one of the world’s top referees, Irishman Alain Rolland, will handle the game.

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