Springbok coach Peter de Villiers admitted it was “difficult” to choose between Ruan Pienaar and Morné Steyn, to wear the No.10 jersey in the Tri-Nations Test against the All Blacks on Saturday.
But in the end he went for his preferred choice, Pienaar – with the 24-year-old Sharks pivot’s 30 Test caps, including five starts as Bok flyhalf, weight more heavily that Steyn’s more assure kicking prowess.
“It was always a difficult choice between two such talented players,” De Villiers told a media gathering in Bloemfontein on Tuesday, when quizzed about his flyhalf selection.
The Bok coach added that it was “great” to have a player like Steyn to cover in the event of injury.
However, he stopped short of installing Pienaar as the first-choice No.10 for the entire Tri-Nations.
“You can’t look too far ahead,” he said, given the prospect that there could be injuries.
“We will consider [starting Steyn at flyhalf] if injury hits,” De Villiers told the media gathering.
While many questioned the wisdom of starting Pienaar ahead of Steyn, after the latter’s match-winning performance in the decisive second Test against the British and Irish Lions, the Bok coach is happy that he has the best combination to tackle the All Blacks.
The Bok coach also confirmed that the decision to start with Jean de Villiers and Jaque Fourie in the centres – the first time since the opening match of the 2007 World Cup that they will pair up in midfield – is the result of the groin injury that has ruled Adi Jacobs out.
“It was a big setback to lose Adi, as he has been in our plans for a long time,” De Villiers said, adding: “But with Jaque coming in, our plans won’t change that much.
“They are very similar players and we will look to play a similar style of rugby with Jaque now at No.13.”
De Villiers and Fourie, who first played together in 2005, were the foremost centre combination in 2007 – before De Villiers suffered a cruel arm-muscle injury in that opening match against Samoa and was ruled out for the rest of the year.
“I am excited that they are reunited and I look forward to seeing what they can do,” the Bok coach added.Tweet