Rugby World Cup 2011
Div beefs up Bok midfield
Frans Steyn (Gallo Images)
Wellington - South Africa have made four changes to the run-on team that recorded a 17-16 victory over Wales last week as they prepare to take on Fiji in their second Rugby World Cup match Wellington, New Zealand, on Saturday.
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Injuries were cited as the reason for most of the changes in the team named on Wednesday, and by selecting Frans Steyn to start at centre, the title holders have gone back to what worked so well for them at the previous World Cup.
Bok coach Peter de Villiers said he included the Racing Metro centre to beef up the team's midfield defence, which looked vulnerable at times during their opening match.
"We can't allow for the same thing like on Sunday when that channel [in midfield] was exposed on defence," De Villiers said.
"We need a strong guy there to stop it and not give them any momentum.
"You look at the opposition and see what the strengths and weaknesses of your opponents are, and you look at what they offer to us."
De Villiers said they could take positives from the changes, some of which were made as part of the squad's rotation policy, but most of which were due to injuries to key players.
Bok captain John Smit had an opportunity to work with younger players, De Villiers said, while others would get some much needed game time.
"We have a few injuries and everything works for the good, so I think it is a brilliant opportunity for John to blood in some of the other players," De Villiers said.
"One of the fears that we face is that some of the players did not play in a very long time."
Included in the last line of defence was Patrick Lambie who had only recently recovered from a shoulder injury.
His recovery was, however, not as hasty as that of Bakkies Botha.
According to a medical assessment made on Monday, Botha was not responding well to treatment, but he nonetheless replaced Victor Matfield in the starting line-up.
The Boks lost Matfield to a hamstring injury, and possibly Johann Muller, who was to undergo a late fitness test, which left South Africa in crises as far as second-row forwards were concerned.
The Springbok coach defended his decision to field Botha, who missed their opening game.
"We will never take risks with players, especially when their lives are at stake," De Villiers said.
"Throughout the World Cup there will be niggles in each of the squads."
Apart from Matfield, team management said backs Butch James (hip flexor), Jean de Villiers (rib cartilage) and Bryan Habana (patella tendon) were all unavailable for selection due to injury.
If Muller, who was named on the bench, is unable to play, he will be replaced by Francois Louw.
Odwa Ndungane would step into the left wing berth in place of Habana, Pat Lambie is set to start at fullback, and Francois Steyn moves forward to fill De Villiers' inside centre berth.
James' place on the bench is taken by the versatile Ruan Pienaar.
In addition, De Villiers made two tactical changes.
Gurthro Steenkamp is 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.
South Africa: 15 Pat Lambie, 14 Odwa Ndungane,
13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Morne Steyn,
9 Fourie Du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Heinrich Brussow,
5 Danie Rossouw 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Jannie Du Plessis, 2 John Smit
(captain), 1 Gurthro Steenkamp
Substitutes: 16 Bismarck du Plessis 17 Tendai Mtawarira 18 Johann Muller 19 Willem Alberts 20 Fancois Hougaard 21 Ruan Pienaar 22 Juan de Jongh
Fiji: 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Gaby Lovobalavu, 12
Seremaia Bai, 11 Naipolioni Nalaga, 10 Waisea Sedre Luveniyali, 9 Nemia
Kenatale, 8 Sakiusa
Matadigo, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Dominiko Maiwiriwiri Waqaniburotu, 5 Wame
Lewaravu, 4 Leone Nakarawa, 3 Deacon Manu (captain), 2 Sunia Koto, 1
Substitutes: 16 Telemaitoga Dautu Tuapati, 17 Waisea Nailago,
18 Netani Edward Talei, 19 Sisa Koyamaibole, 20 Vitori Tomu Buatava, 21 Nicky
Little, 22 Gaby Lovobalavu
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