Loose forwards Luke Watson and Schalk Burger have to compete for a place in the Springbok team.
They certainly won’t be partners in South Africa’s run-on team for the Tri-Nations rugby Test against New Zealand here on Saturday, according to Stephen Nell of Die Burger.
Springbok coach Peter de Villiers made this clear when he was asked on Sunday whether Watson may be selected at No. 8 to make room on the flank for Burger.
Burger, one of the 2007 World Cup stars, returned to action only recently after recovering from a knee injury.
“We have three eighthmen here. It would be poor selecting to choose a fourth to play,” De Villiers said.
It seems, therefore, as if Burger will wear No. 6 on Saturday, with Watson likely to be on the bench.
Burger has more Test experience than his Stormers team-mate and his physical presence is highly valued.
New Zealand captain and star open-side flank Richie McCaw is injured and Chris Masoe has been included in the squad; a decision that has not surprised De Villliers.
“Masoe is the more experienced player,” he pointed out. “McCaw’s absence could create pressure for the All Blacks. The way he plays, he usually takes a lot of pressure off the other forwards.”
SA captain John Smit is expected to arrive here only on Monday after completing his club commitments in France at the weekend. However, De Villiers won’t hesitate to include the veteran hooker.
“His experience is important,” the coach said. “Early psychological battles must be won and those things do not affect a guy such as John.
“Everyone says Bismarck du Plessis is a good hooker. I agree, but the external pressure that John takes makes it easier on himself and the guys around him.”
Experience may be South Africa’s main asset on Saturday, making the inclusion of Burger, Smit, Victor Matfield and Butch James a certainty.
It will be interesting, however, to see whether veteran Percy Montgomery is at fullback in the starting line-up.
Conrad Jantjes has played well since De Villiers took over the coaching, but Montgomery is the only member of the SA squad who was in the team when the Springboks last won in New Zealand. That was in 1998, also in Wellington.
Jean de Villiers and Adrian Jacobs did nothing wrong when they were midfield partners against Wales but it will be hard to leave Frans Steyn out of the run-on team. He could be chosen alongside De Villiers.
JP Pietersen is not in the squad for nothing and it is expected that he will be on the right wing.
The South Africans will know only on Monday whether Ryan Kankowski can be considered for the No. 8 position.
The young loose forward was concussed during the recent Test against Italy and he did not take part in the indoor training session on Sunday.
“Ryan will go to the gym on Monday and if he does not suffer any headaches, we will consider him,” De Villiers said.
The SA team will be finalised later this week.Tweet