Springbok coach Peter de Villiers says he had to make some tough choices when selecting the starting XV to face the Wallabies in a Vodacom Tri-Nations clash at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The starting line-up shows two changes from the one that went down 22-29 against the All Blacks last week with Frans Steyn starting at fullback in place of Gio Aplon and Jaque Fourie returning to replace Juan de Jongh.
De Jongh moves to the bench, in place of Wynand Olivier, whilst Aplon falls out of the match 22.
“How do you tell a guy who has played well that he is not part of the team, or is on the bench?” De Villiers lamented at a press conference in Pretoria on Monday.
“But that is part and parcel on my job as coach that sometimes I must make unpopular decisions. The reality is that there are only 15 places in the starting line-up and I have to do what I believe is best for the team.
“Juan (de Jongh) will be a great one day but Jaque Fourie is one already. He has played 60 Tests and, with the exception of his yellow card in Brisbane, has done well for us all season,” De Villiers said.
“Gio did not do anything wrong but we have an opportunity to see Frans play. He also offers us another kicking option which will take some pressure off Morné Steyn.”
Frans Steyn last played a Test against Wales in Cardiff on 5 June and rejoined the squad this week after being unavailable for the All Blacks Test. Fourie, meanwhile, returns from a four-week suspension after he was yellow-carded in the opening minutes of the previous clash with the Wallabies in Brisbane last month.
Juan Smith, who was the only injury concern after the All Blacks game, has been cleared and is included in the run-on XV.
There is one change amongst the reserves with Ryan Kankowski, who joined the squad on Monday, preferred as loose forward cover ahead of Francois Louw. Kankowski looked sharp for the Sharks in their win over Vodacom Western Province in the Absa Currie Cup last weekend and his speed could be a factor if he is used from the bench at the weekend.
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that Aplon, Olivier and Louw will be released to the provinces and will be available for Absa Currie Cup selection at the weekend.
The Springbok team: 15 Frans Steyn, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Juan Smith, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 John Smit (capt), 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp. Reserves: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Danie Rossouw, 19 Ryan Kankowski, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Butch James, 22 Juan de Jongh.
Issued by SARU CommunicationsTweet