Rugby Championship

Bismarck set for hooker nod

2013-09-02 18:44
Bismarck du Plessis (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - The Springboks have set themselves an ambitious target of dominating the both the breakdown battle and the set phases and with this in mind are set to return hooker Bismarck du Plessis to the starting line-up.

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According to the supersport.com website, Du Plessis, who has overcome injury and has been on the sidelines as Adriaan Strauss continued his stellar run in the 2013 season, is likely to start on Saturday at Suncorp stadium as the Boks look for more aggression at the breakdown and an extra counter to the Australian loose forwards.

If there has been one problem area since Heyneke Meyer has taken over, it is the breakdown.

Against Scotland and against Argentina (in Mendoza), the Boks have allowed themselves to be beaten to the ball, and have had to adjust during the game to a different approach by the opposition.

While it is positive that in both games the Boks were able to right their wrongs after halftime and ensure they secured more ball, in both cases against a more settled and attacking outfit they could easily have been punished, and against their Sanzar rivals they surely would be if they try the same again.

That is one part to the equation, the other being that Strauss has had a massive season thus far, playing almost every Super Rugby game and almost every test.

With coach Heyneke Meyer needing a fresh strong side on the field on Saturday, it means that he will need to look to his bench, to the players who can make a difference.

In Bismarck’s case it isn’t necessarily that he is better or worse than Strauss.

Both are exceptional players and Meyer is spoilt for choice.

It is more about the fact that the Boks need to be at their best and if there was a right time to unleash Bismarck, it is in this test.

There was a definite hint from coach Heyneke Meyer that Bismarck would start the game, as well as an indication that he is considering a few other changes to ensure his side is “fresh” and ready to face the onslaught they expect from the Wallabies.

"He’s definitely 100% fit and I was very happy with his performance off the bench, so there is a good chance he will start this Saturday," Meyer said on Du Plessis.

"Our medical team has done wonders and it is important to have fresh players on the field on Saturday.

"Adriaan has played a lot of rugby, almost every single test and super rugby match.

"So definitely in one of the next two games he will start, and he will also be the vice-captain when he starts."

Meyer took it a bit further, saying he would make a few more changes, mainly to counter the fatigue of travel, but also to ensure his squad remains focused on their massive task ahead.

"There will be a few changes, mostly due to rotational decisions.

"I also want to have the freshest team on the field," Meyer added.

"We’ve travelled a lot in the past few weeks.

"It’s not an excuse, and it will even out for everyone by the end of the competition, but we will play three away matches on the trot and we will travel away for all three, so I think it is important to have the freshest guys on the field and the guys who are important to have a go.

"There will definitely be a few changes in the team."

"The 23 have played a number of tests now, and we have travelled a lot.

"We are focusing just on this game, but our long-term planning is to keep the players as fresh as possible.

"One of our strengths at the moment is that we have a really strong bench.

"They have made a difference when they’ve come on.

"Any of those players on the bench can start and it makes it an advantage for me as a coach."

Given that Meyer won’t want to give away any physicality on the bench, it is unlikely that there will be many changes among the props or in the loose trio.

While it will only become apparent on Tuesday when the team trains for the first time, Meyer’s other changes may well be in the backline.

Juandre Kruger’s performance in Mendoza may well come under scrutiny, in which case Meyer can always revert to the combination he tried against Samoa, with Flip van der Merwe coming into the mix.

Ruan Pienaar should stay at nine, even though he was less than impressive in Mendoza, while the back three will also be interesting to see. Willie le Roux’s frailty under the high ball is a worrying factor and it will be interesting to see if Meyer continues with him.

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