Boks Unleash Bakkies On Fiji
The Springboks on Thursday made four changes to their starting line-up and two more on the bench when they named the team to meet Fiji in their Pool D Rugby World Cup 2011 match in Wellington on Saturday. Four of the six changes have been forced by injury.
Lock Victor Matfield (hamstring) and backs Butch James (hip flexor), Jean de Villiers (rib cartilage) and Bryan Habana (patella tendon) were all unavailable for selection due to injury. A fifth player, Johann Muller, will undergo a late fitness test on a tight hamstring. If he is unavailable he will be replaced on the bench by Francois Louw.
Matfield’s place is taken by the returning Bakkies Botha; Odwa Ndungane steps into the left wing berth in place of Habana; Pat Lambie starts at fullback with Francois Steyn moving forward to fill De Villiers’ inside centre berth and James’ place on the bench is taken by the versatile Ruan Pienaar who has appeared at scrumhalf, flyhalf and fullback for the Springboks.
In addition, Springbok coach Peter de Villiers made two tactical changes. Gurthrö Steenkamp was promoted to start at loosehead prop in place of Tendai Mtawarira (who drops to the bench) while the return to a conventional four/three split between forwards and backs among the replacements opens the way for Juan de Jongh to make a first appearance on a Rugby World Cup teamsheet.
De Villiers said Willem Alberts would act as a replacement lock if Muller failed to recover sufficiently.
“We have had injury problems at lock but we have versatile players to cover for most situations,” said De Villiers. “Danie Rossouw has now been picked to start at 4, 5, 7 and 8 this season and will call the lineouts this weekend.
“Willem Alberts is on the bench to cover four of the back five positions in the pack and we have a couple of scrumhalves on the bench who cover three other positions as well, so we are fortunate.
“Against a tough proposition like Fiji you’d prefer to have all your players available but this is tournament rugby and we picked our squad knowing that we would have to cover for many situations.”
The Springboks have played Fiji twice before, winning both games. In 1996 they recorded a 43-18 win in Pretoria before recording a momentarily tense, 37-20 victory over Fiji in the quarterfinals of the 2007 tournament.
South Africa: 15 Pat Lambie, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Odwa Ndungane, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Danie Rossouw, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 John Smit (captain), 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Johann Muller, 19 Willem Alberts, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Juan de Jongh.