Heyneke Meyer (Getty)
Newcastle - After a wretched start to the
Rugby World Cup, Heyneke Meyer's two-time champions South Africa get another
shot at redemption on Saturday against a Scotland side already knocking on the
door to the playoffs.
It is a crucial match in unravelling the
Pool B log-jam in which Samoa and Japan also retain quarter-final hopes after
two of the four games and clash just hours ahead of the Springboks and
The weight of experience lies with South
Africa who have a 4-0 record against Scotland since the last World Cup and
field a side with more than twice as many caps as the 330 mustered by Scotland.
Experience meant nothing when Japan shocked
South Africa in the opener. But the Springboks bounced back to thrash Samoa
46-6 only to lose captain Jean de Villiers to a Test career-ending broken jaw.
It inflicted further pain on a side already
flayed in their local media as an "old man's" team.
Fourie du Preez, 33, has been handed the
captaincy with vice-captain Victor Matfield side-lined by a hamstring injury.
"We were really with our backs against
the wall last week," du Preez said, adding the win over Samoa "hasn't
changed the position we're in this week."
Du Preez is rated a "tactical
genius" by coach Meyer who made three changes to the line-up that put their
campaign back on track.
"The biggest thing is he knows how to
win, he has been injured so many times, but he has a massive passion for the
Jesse Kriel comes in for de Villiers in a
centre partnership with Damian de Allende, while Lodewyk de Jager takes over
from Matfield at lock and Bismarck du Plessis returns as hooker in place of
"I know the team is ready," Meyer
said. "We don't look past Saturday but I really feel we're going to have a
Scrumhalf du Preez, who fought his way
back from a medial ligament injury to make the World Cup, is Meyer's ace for
the remainder of the tournament.
"He knows what I want on the field.
The biggest thing is he knows how to win."
It's been a brighter run for Scotland picking
up bonus point victories over Japan and USA to put them one win away from the
knockout stages after falling short in 2011.
If Vern Cotter's side do not seal the deal
against South Africa they have a last chance against Samoa a week later.
They too have to overcome injuries with flyhalf
Finn Russell (ankle) and John Hardie (head knock) not available and lock Grant
Gilchrist (groin) out of the tournament.
Although there are suspicions the 11
changes in the Scots line up are a case of preserving ammunition for what could
be a must-win pool finale against Samoa, Cotter was emphatic that is not the
"This is our third game in 10 days,
we've taken that into account," the New Zealander said.
"These players will be giving 100
percent of themselves and it is a team that will be competitive."
Regardless, the Scots - who include several
kilted imports including from New Zealand, South Africa, Zimbabwe and the
Netherlands - have a lean look to them with the amount of caps accrued.
In the pack only lock Richie Gray, playing
his 50th Test and Josh Strauss remain, though Strauss moves from number eight
to the blindside to accommodate David Denton.
Blair Cowan, the replacement for Gilchrist,
comes straight into the side to make his World Cup debut with loosehead Gordon
Reid also getting his first run in the tournament.
In the backs, flyhalf Duncan Weir takes on
the heavy responsibility of playmaker while Stuart Hogg and Tim Visser keep
their places although there is no room for Sean Lamont.
Scotland field two players of South African
origin, WP Nel and Strauss, which may cause South Africa to rethink their
lineout calls which are usually in Afrikaans.
Cotter noted "those two will be able
to understand exchanges."