Div axes Steyn, Big Joe
Cape Town - Springbok coach Peter de Villiers has omitted Frans Steyn and Joe van Niekerk from his 27-man squad for the one-off Test against France at Newlands on Saturday.
Also dropped after the Boks' 34-31 win over Wales was prop CJ van der Linde and centre Meyer Bosman.
GALLERY: Wales v Springboks
Wing Odwa Ndungane, who picked up a rib injury while in the process of scoring a try on Saturday, will undergo further scans to assess the damage, but won’t be considered for the game against France.
Andries Bekker, who returned to SA ahead of the Cardiff Test, has been given the weekend off, but may be fit to play against Italy the following week.
Those returning to the squad include Jean de Villiers, Wynand Olivier, Butch James, Morne Steyn, Bryan Habana, Pierre Spies, Schalk Burger, Bakkies Botha, Gurthro Steenkamp and Flip van der Merwe.
Botha, who is still under suspension, won't be available for the France Test.
Bulls lock Van der Merwe is the only uncapped player in the squad.
The squad excludes scrumhalf Fourie du Preez, who is to have shoulder surgery on Tuesday.
"Fourie is very important to us but so is his welfare and the time is right for him to sort this injury out," said coach Peter de Villiers. "We will miss him but it is important that he is available and fit at the world cup next year. We have adequate cover in the scrumhalf position too.”
On the opposition, De Villiers said: "France are the Six Nations champions and they beat us last year so this is a big match. We know they can be dangerous and this will be a tough, tough Test.”
Explaining the omission of Steyn, De Villiers said that he was one of several overseas based players who were off the pace in the win over Wales at the Millennium Stadium.
“If you go and watch the game again, and really watch it closely, you will see that most of the overseas based players were off the pace in that game. I have been criticised for not selecting overseas based players, but this match showed me that the guys have to be playing Super 14,” said De Villiers.
“In Frans’ case I met with him (before the Cardiff Test) and we came to an agreement that I would not choose him beyond this game. I believe Frans was the best in the world last year, but he wasn’t the best in the world in Cardiff, and that is a problem. I don’t know what he is going to do to get back there. Playing overseas is not the answer.”
De Villiers said that critics were bound to question him about Jean de Villiers, who was included in the group on Monday after passing a medical examination on his injured A/C joint, but he said the Bok centre had always played open cards with him from the time he left for Munster last year.
“I always knew that Jean would be back by June 1 this year, he phoned me before he left and told me he knew he was making a big mistake and wanted to come back as soon as possible,” said De Villiers.
The coach included No 8 Van Niekerk in the group that he felt were off the pace because they did not play Super 14 rugby.
However, apart from selecting De Villiers, he has also retained overseas based tighthead BJ Botha and Bath flyhalf Butch James, who was initially selected at centre for the match against Wales but was ruled out due to a contractual dispute. The Bok coach’s reasons for retaining James appeared fair.
“I feel that after offering him the chance to play against Wales it would be unfair to leave him out now because his chances were dashed by the dispute involving his club. As for where I will choose him when I do use him, I am not sure. It could be at flyhalf or it could be at centre.”
De Villiers said that James earns his place ahead of someone like inform Stormers flyhalf Peter Grant on the grounds that he inspires the players around him. James was the Springbok flyhalf when South Africa won the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
“There are seven other players who just love having Butch around and they feel they play better when he is. This is not an individual sport, it is a team sport, and we must make the selections that help the team cause.”
De Villiers added that Bekker’s omission was purely injury related and had nothing to do with the personal problems the player is experiencing which were spotlighted in some media at the weekend.
“When Andries’ injury was diagnosed we did not know about the other thing that has happened, we have not discussed that,” said De Villiers.
The match 22 to face France at Newlands on Saturday will be named on Tuesday.
Zane Kirchner, Gio Aplon, Bjorn Basson, Jaque Fourie, Jean de Villiers, Wynand Olivier, Juan de Jongh, Butch James, Morne Steyn, Bryan Habana, Ruan Pienaar, Ricky Januarie, Pierre Spies, Ryan Kankowski, Dewald Potgieter, Francois Louw, Schalk Burger, Bakkies Botha, Flip van der Merwe, Danie Rossouw, Victor Matfield, Alistair Hargreaves, BJ Botha, John Smit (captain), Chiliboy Ralepelle, Jannie du Plessis, Gurthro Steenkamp