No place for Aplon, de Jongh
Auckland – Two of South Africa’s most exciting young backline talents Gio Aplon and Juan de Jongh will not be in the Springbok starting line-up in the Tri-Nations Test match against New Zealand at Eden Park on Saturday.
The Stormers-duo have both played excellent rugby for the Boks since making their Test debuts this year. They have also proven themselves against the best that the Super 14 has to offer.
The Springbok match 22 will however only be named on Thursday, but if the Bok training session at the Takapuna Rugby Club on Auckland’s North Shore is anything to go by, Jean de Villiers will start on the right wing, with the Bulls-duo of Wynand Olivier and Zane Kirchner preferred to De Jongh and Aplon at inside centre and fullback respectively.
Aplon who played his last Test against Italy in East London at fullback, will probably make his debut against the All Blacks from the bench with De Jongh possibly out of the match-22
“The All Blacks are still the number one team in the world. It’s the dream of any youngster playing rugby in South Africa, to play against the All Blacks. I am still a bit nervous and sometime have to pinch myself to feel if everything is real,” Aplon said about the impending clash against the arch enemy.
Bakkies Botha (hamstring) and Danie Rossouw (hip) did not participate in Tuesday’s practice session. They will be given a chance until Thursday to recover.
Andries Bekker partnered Victor Matfield in the engine room, while Gurthrö Steenkamp, John Smit and Jannie du Plessis will again make up the front row.
The loose-forward combination of Pierre Spies, Schalk Burger and Francois Louw should remain the same.
According to Louw who will also make his debut against the Kiwis on Saturday, he expects the men in black will have a point to prove after their disappointing Tri-Nations campaign last year.
“We beat them three times last year and they will probably be out to take revenge. We are expecting a great onslaught from them,” warned Louw.
Ricky Januarie and Morné Steyn should remain as the halfback pairing, with Ruan Pienaar and Butch James warming the bench.
The possible Springbok starting line-up:
Zane Kirchner, Jean de Villiers, Jaque Fourie, Wynand Olivier, Bryan Habana, Morné Steyn, Ricky Januarie, Pierre Spies, Francois Louw, Schalk Burger, Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Jannie du Plessis, John Smit (captain) and Gurthrö Steenkamp.