700 Test caps in Bok team
Wellington – It is the most experienced Springbok team ever that will try and win a Test here for the first time since 1998 on Saturday.
The starting team has 700 Tests behind them, but not a single member of the squad has tasted victory over the All Blacks at the Westpac Stadium, in spite of South Africa’s status as World and Tri-Nations champions.
Coach Peter de Villiers has stuck to his belief that his team simply had a bad day at the office in Auckland and picked the same players that disappointed at Eden Park.
CJ van der Linde (for Jannie du Plessis, calf injury) and Danie Rossouw (for Bakkies Botha, suspended) are forced changes, with Ryan Kankowski having somewhat surprisingly been picked ahead of Dewald Potgieter to replace Rossouw on the substitutes’ bench.
De Villiers will continue with Ricky Januarie at scrumhalf, with Ruan Pienaar on the periphery and having seemingly lost the confidence of the coaching staff.
It appears as if Pienaar’s decision to go and play in Ulster later this year is already counting against him, in which case it should be asked why he was taken along to begin with.
He only got two minutes of game time in Auckland and it would probably have been better to give Francois Hougaard some experience by including him.
Januarie will have to come up with something extraordinary to justify the coach’s continued faith in him.
One of the Boks’ biggest shortcomings in Auckland was their tactical kicking and few are better at that than Ruan Pienaar.
Meanwhile, wing Jean de Villiers has said that the Boks will be much better than last week because they can turn the unpleasant experience into an advantage.
“We had so much experience in the team and then played so badly. It reminded me of the dark days of Bok rugby. We now have the opportunity to put it right and want to grab it with both hands,” said De Villiers.
De Villiers said that the “limp” performance in Auckland was a first for him in his 59 Tests.
“It sometimes happens that one team is not at its best and the other really plays well. I recall that being the case when we beat the Wallabies (53-8) at Ellis Park in 2008. However, it has never happened to any Bok team that I played for against the All Blacks,” said De Villiers.
The wing said that the defeat of 12-32 at Eden Park was something of the past.
“Harsh words were spoken, but we have now finished talking and venting our anger. It does not help you dwell on such a performance for too long. We will try again this weekend. Remember, the Tri-Nations is not won in July!”
The Bok team is:
Zane Kirchner (8 Tests), Jean de Villiers (59), Jaque Fourie (58), Wynand Oliver (30), Bryan Habana (61), Morné Steyn (16), Ricky Januarie (45), Pierre Spies (32), Francois Louw (5), Schalk Burger (58), Victor Matfield (96), Danie Rossouw (49), CJ van der Linde (60), John Smit (97), Gurthrö Steenkamp (26). Substitutes: Chiliboy Ralepelle (13), BJ Botha (23), Andries Bekker (23), Ryan Kankowski(13), Ruan Pienaar (41), Butch James (38), Gio Aplon (5).