Boks all set under clear sky

2013-11-17 16:11
Morne Steyn (Gallo Images)

Edinburgh - The weather that coach Heyneke Meyer may have been hoping for so that his players could be tested in the most inclement conditions ahead of the 2015 World Cup, was not forthcoming when his Springbok team woke up in their team hotel in Edinburgh on Sunday.

Meyer said at the start of the tour that he wanted to see if certain players “would sink or swim”, but if he wants to test their buoyancy in water he is going to have to take them down to the harbour and throw them off the wharf, for they are unlikely to encounter any kind of wet weather at match time.

This week has been one of the driest the South Africans have experienced over the past decade or so of travelling to the Scottish capital, and there hasn’t been much rain to talk of all week.

And by Scotland standards, it hasn’t been that cold either – certainly not as bad as last year – with the runners and walkers out enjoying the pathways, roads and views around Arthurs Seat on a temperate Sunday morning by local standards.

The good news for the Springbok fans who have poured into the city over the weekend – with Twickenham not on the fixture list this year this appears to be the game the London-based expats want to attend – is that the Bok team will take the field on Sunday as it was selected.

Both flank Willem Alberts and back-up flyhalf Morne Steyn were pronounced fit at the captain’s practice on Saturday afternoon and skipper Jean de Villiers, although he says he still has a slight cold, is sufficiently over the flu that kept him in bed in the early part of the week to lead his team onto the field.

So the final line-up, with Siya Kolisi removed from the bracket that enclosed him and Alberts, reads as follows:

Willie le Roux, JP Pietersen, Jaque Fourie, Jean de Villiers (captain), Bryan Habana, Patrick Lambie, Fourie du Preez, Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw, Flip van der Merwe, Bakkies Botha, Frans Malherbe, Adriaan Strauss, Gurthro Steenkamp. Replacements: Bismarck du Plessis, Beast Mtawarira, Coenie Oosthuizen, Eben Etzebeth, Marcell Coetzee, Ruan Pienaar, Morne Steyn, JJ Engelbrecht.

Perhaps Meyer hasn't gone as far as some would have hoped in including younger players in this game, but he is clearly worried about the disruption to the Bok momentum that will come about if there is a hiccup against Scotland, who he says he respects.

But if you examine it closely, there is a second-string look to it in some areas, such as the all-important tight five, while last week showed that Jaque Fourie and JP Pietersen, two of the Japan-based players, clearly need another gallop before they can be said to be back to their old class and form.

The Scotland team also has a distinctly second-string look to it, much more so than South Africa, with the word from the Scottish media being that next week's game against Australia has been the one they have targeted during the series of autumn test matches.

On the evidence of the Wallabies' fine 32-15 win over Ireland on Saturday, they could well be wrong about that, although the current IRB World Rankings do reflect that the Boks are ahead of their Australian rivals by some distance.

Teams for the one-off international between Scotland and South Africa at Edinburgh's Murrayfield on Sunday (1500GMT kick-off):

Sean Maitland; Tommy Seymour, Nick De Luca, Duncan Taylor, Sean Lamont; Ruaridh Jackson, Greig Laidlaw (capt); David Denton, John Barclay, Alasdair Strokosch; Jim Hamilton, Richie Gray; Moray Low, Ross Ford, Alasdair Dickinson
Replacements: Scott Lawson, Ryan Grant, Geoff Cross, Jonny Gray, Johnnie Beattie, Chris Cusiter, Duncan Weir, Max Evans

South Africa
Willie le Roux; JP Pietersen, Jaque Fourie, Jean de Villiers (capt), Bryan Habana; Pat Lambie, Fourie du Preez; Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw; Flip van der Merwe, Bakkies Botha; Frans Malherbe, Adriaan Strauss, Gurthro Steenkamp
Replacements: Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Coenie Oosthuizen, Eben Etzebeth, Marcell Coetzee, Ruan Pienaar, Morne Steyn, JJ Engelbrecht

Referee: Jerome Garces (FRA)


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