Jean de Villiers (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer believes that captain Jean de Villiers is back in his best position for Saturday's Rugby World Cup clash against Japan.
The Springbok captain has been named at inside centre for his side's tournament opener alongside Jesse Kriel in midfield, while the in-form Damian de Allende misses out.
Meyer, who has suggested that there will be plenty of rotation in the pool stages of the tournament, has offered some insight into his decision to move De Villiers back to 12 when it appeared in the build-up to the tournament that De Allende had all but made that position his own.
"Jean’s best position has always been 12. He can play 13, he’s played at wing for South Africa as well, but it’s always been 12," Meyer said of De Villiers.
"It’s closer to the action... especially in the first game I wanted to put him in his preferred position."
Meyer added that he wanted to nurture the De Villiers/Kriel combination.
"He hasn't played with Jesse as a combination before. Jesse has done well; he's a specialist 13," said the coach.
The major attribute that De Villiers brings to the side, outside of his game, is his leadership.
"It’s great to have Jean back. If you had said to me Jean and Victor (Matfield) were going to be available for the first game I probably wouldn’t have believed that a year ago," said Meyer.
"It’s great to have great leaders around us and you want to get Jean going as soon as possible. He hasn’t played for quite some time, he’s gone through a lot of things and it’s also important that he puts his marker down as a captain."
Kick-off on Saturday is at 17:45.
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Schalk Burger, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Fourie du Preez, 22 Handre Pollard, 23 JP Pietersen