Thursday September 13, 2012
Boks take a chance
WELLINGTON: Prop Jannie du Plessis has been included in the South African team to play the rampant All Blacks in Dunedin on Saturday despite struggling with a hamstring injury.
Coach Heyneke Meyer has made just two changes to the side that lost to Australia last weekend, with Flip van der Merwe coming in for suspended lock Eben Etzebeth and Francois Louw replacing Marcell Coetzee on the flank.
“New Zealand are best in contesting at the breakdown. We decided to go with Flo (Louw) because he’s a specialist. It’s a horses for courses approach,” Meyer said.
“Marcell has been very good this season and has played a lot of rugby but in this match we feel he will be more useful as an impact option.”
Meyer is confident Du Plessis, who has until tomorrow to prove his fitness, will take the field.
The Springboks are limited in the props they can call on with Pat Cilliers suffering from an elbow strain. Dean Greyling has been named on the bench but is a preferred loosehead,
“If Dean comes on it will be a huge, huge test, especially against the best loosehead (Tony Woodcock) in world rugby. But Dean has impact and he’s fresh,” said Meyer.
The 20-year-old Etzebeth was suspended for two weeks for headbutting Wallaby lock Nathan Sharpe during the Springboks’ 26-19 defeat but Meyer said the experience of 17-Test van der Merwe would be important against the world champion All Blacks.
“Even having an experienced pack is a tough challenge against the All Blacks but we are excited,” he said.
“I know people don’t give us a chance but I believe this team is growing. They will have to step up. I have confidence in the pack.”
The All Blacks lead the Rugby Championship with 12 points after three wins while South Africa are second on seven points followed by Australia (four points) and Argentina (two). —
Meanwhile Australian rugby officials confirmed in Perth yesterday that stand-in captain Will Genia will be out for six months after surgery for a knee injury suffered in the Rugby Championship win over the Springboks.
The Wallabies rallied from behind to beat South Africa 26-19 in Perth on Saturday, drawing a line under their humiliating 22-0 drubbing by the All Blacks in the second game of the four-nations Championship.
But victory came at a steep cost, with Genia hobbling from the ground late in the game with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee – the third Australian skipper to be felled by injury this year.
Rugby officials said the injured halfback underwent surgery in Brisbane yesterday and a “full reconstruction was required of the ACL”.
“Today’s procedure went well but Genia will now be sidelined for an estimated six months of rehabilitation before he can return to the field of play,” a team spokesman said.
Genia assumed the captaincy after skipper David Pocock was sidelined for three months by a knee injury suffered in Australia’s opening Rugby Championship game against New Zealand in August.
Pocock was himself standing in for first-choice leader James Horwill, who is recovering from a Super Rugby hamstring injury, sparking claims that the Wallabies captaincy is cursed.
Veteran lock Nathan Sharpe leads Australia onto the park for Saturday’s Test against Argentina. — AFP