Boks ready to correct the wrongs

Heyneke Meyer (Gallo)
Heyneke Meyer (Gallo)

Birmingham - After committing the rugby version of hara-kiri following their sensational defeat by Japan, South Africa are ready to get their Rugby World Cup campaign back on track against Samoa on Saturday.

The Springboks went down to a last-gasp 34-32 defeat by the Japanese in their opening Pool B game.

The biggest upset in modern-day rugby led to leading South African rugby administrators, coach Heyneke Meyer and players into a rash of public self-flagellation rarely seen in sport.

Meyer apologised to the nation for the humiliation.

"The last few days have been a time for retrospection and the team this week has been selected specifically with Samoa in mind, as we know we'll have to be at our very best to succeed," he said.

Still fresh in the memory is the way Samoa pushed South Africa all the way in the 2011 World Cup before going down 13-5.

Ten of Samoa's match-day squad remain from that day, something not lost on Meyer.

"They will pose a massive challenge and I think it's fair to say that it's the biggest game of the season for us. They have a very strong team with players plying their trade all over the world," the coach said.

Samoa kicked off their World Cup this time around with a 25-16 victory over the United States, but coach Stephen Betham has warned his team of "massive warfare" in the looming clash.

He has brought in Mike Stanley at flyhalf in place of veteran Tusi Pisi, who drops to the bench after an erratic kicking display against the Americans.

"But in saying that we can't come to a war with our hands and a pocket knife, we've got to bring all we've got and face up.

"We've always expected South Africa to be our toughest opponent here and that hasn't changed one bit. We expect them to be even harder now because that surprise factor is not in there."

Betham said he expected the 'Boks to be fired up after their shock opening defeat.

"We are not expecting anything less from South Africa," he said.

"We are expecting a fired up South African side: a side that is out to prove a point, a side that is hungry for a win.

"They have got all the professional players to do that, and it’s just a case of them gelling."

Meyer could call up three players nominated for the World Rugby player of the year award over the last two years - lock Eben Etzebeth, No 8 Duane Vermeulen and fullback Willie Le Roux, while Jean de Villiers continues as captain, but from outside centre.

A row in South Africa over the racial composition of the side - part of the process of post-apartheid 'transformation' - which intensified after the Japan defeat, is sure to be revived again given there are now only six non-white players in Meyer's match day 23 to play Samoa, compared to seven last time out.

However, as was the case for the loss to Japan, four non-white players will start with wings JP Pietersen and Bryan Habana, centre Damian de Allende and Zimbabwe-born prop Tendai Mtawarira all in South Africa's 1st XV.

The government 'target' is to have seven non-white players in a match day 23 and five on the pitch at any one time, although this is an aspiration rather than a strict requirement.


South Africa

15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Beast Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jesse Kriel


15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Paul Perez, 12 Ray Lee-Lo, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Mike Stanley, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Ofisa Treviranus (captain), 7 Jack Lam, 6 TJ Ioane, 5 Iosefa Tekori, 4 Teofilo Paulo, 3 Anthony Perenise, 2 Motu Matu'u, 1 Sakaria Taulafo

Substitutes: 16 Ole Avei, 17 Viliamu Afatia, 18 Census Johnston, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Vavae Tuilagi, 21 Vavao Afemai, 22 Tusi Pisi, 23 George Pisi

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