Springbok Team to face All Blacks – Sat 21 Aug 2010
Francois Hougaard and Flip vd Merwe have both been included in the team to face the All Blacks on Saturday at FNB Stadium in Soweto. These will be their first Test starts having both played off the bench up until now.
With Ruan Pienaar injured and Ricky McDonald’s burger Januarie in poor form, Hougaard has the chance to establish himself as the incumbent scrumhalf. Until Fourie Du Preez gets back that is.
Pieter de Villiers and Victor Matfield are both excited about Hougaard, with PdV implying he would even do well in the battlefield should you need him there and wars were one day in the future decided with rugby games (how awesome would that be? Also USA would suck).
“He is a player you can take to war, he has a good rugby brain and this is an opportunity for him to show us what he has. He has a chance to cement a place in the team,” de Villiers said.
“He is a great player and has looked sharp starting at No 9 for the Bulls in the last two weeks,” Matfield added.
Other changes to the team (eight in all) include, Juan Smith back at flank, JP Pietersen back at right-wing and Jannie Du Plessis at tighthead prop.
The Springboks have missed Smith’s fierce defence and the go forward ball he provides. He tends to play more to the ball which will be beneficial and is another line out option.
A concern here is the lack of a fetcher but Smith shrugged off the question, saying “Schalk, Pierre and I have played as a combination at this level for the past three or four years, so the fact that I’ve missed the first seven Tests shouldn’t make a difference.
“I also don’t think there should be any concern about the make up of the loose trio. We’ve all been playing under the new laws in the Super 14 and understand what we have to do in that combination,” he added.
Jannie Du Plessis is back from injury after being in great form in the Super 14 and JP Pietersen is welcomed back after an injury lay off but some promising play for the Sharks recently. Gio Aplon has moved to fullback in place of the injured Zane Kirchener, although many predicted this would happen regardless.
Juan De Jongh comes in for the suspended Jacque Fourie and Jean de Villiers moves back to his preferred inside centre position, in a midfield combination that is full of potential but lacking in actual game time. Both of these players have line breaking and game changing abilities but will they work as a combination?
The Springboks need to up their game significantly but with home ground advantage, playing at altitude, 89,000 screaming fans urging them on and the fact that it is John Smit’s 100th game, this will be a cracker no mistake.
Springbok team: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Juan Smith, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 John Smit (captain), 1 Gurthro Steenkamp.
Reserves: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Danie Rossouw, 19 Francois Louw, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Butch James, 22 Wynand Olivier.