Springboks set for Barbarians re-match
December 3, 2010
Springboks Gio Aplon and Elton Jantjies make the most of the winter weather ahead of their showdown with the Barbarians © Getty Images
South Africa will look to bring the curtain down on a turbulent year with revenge against the Barbarians at Twickenham on Saturday.
The Baa Baas claimed a famous victory when the two sides last met in 2007 with tries Matt Giteau, Martyn Williams and Rocky Elsom ensuring the Springboks' World Cup-winning year ended on a low note. And the world-famous select side claimed another famous scalp in their traditional end-of-year fixture 12 months ago by beating the All Blacks for the first time since the fabled class of 1973. Like that day last year, the Barbarians are once again coached by former Boks supremo Nick Mallett.
Following a dire Tri-Nations campaign, the Springboks added a little gloss to their 2010 campaign last month with victories over Wales and Ireland before slumping to a shock defeat against Scotland. However, Peter de Villiers' side rallied with an impressive victory over England and will be keen for a repeat performance on their return to Twickenham this weekend.
Barbarians - Team News: Discarded Wallaby Matt Giteau will lead a star-studded Barbarians side from fly-half. He is joined at halfback by international colleague Will Genia, while wing Drew Mitchell, centre Adam Ashley-Cooper, fullback James O'Connor and hooker Stephen Moore all bolster the Aussie ranks with starting roles. Centre Ma'a Nonu leads a five-strong All Black contingent in the starting XV, with Joe Rokocoko starting out wide and Neemia Tialata, Chris Jack and Rodney So'oialo in the pack. Chiefs No.8 Colin Bourke and Stormers lock Anton van Zyl are the uncapped players in the squad and both start.
Barbarians - Player to Watch: Giteau tormented the Springboks back in 2007 and having slipped down the pecking order of the Wallabies he will be looking to produce a reminder of what he can do.
South Africa - Team News: South Africa have made 12 changes to the side that beat England with promising Sharks youngster Patrick Lambie and Lions playmaker Elton Jantjies making their first starts in a Springbok jersey. Jantjies starts at fly-half alongside Francois Hougaard, while Lambie switches to fullback in place of Kirchner. Late call-up Andries Strauss will be thrown straight into action at inside-centre while another player brought in as cover, Odwa Ndungane, starts on the wing. Flanker Juan Smith captains the side from a much-changed back-row, where Willem Alberts starts at openside and Ryan Kankowski at No.8. Sharks lock Alistair Hargreaves appears for the first time on tour and is joined in the second-row by the experienced Bakkies Botha.
South Africa - Player to Watch: Lambie has been tipped for a bright future but has had to make do with bit-part roles on tour so far. Granted his first start in Springboks colours - albeit at fullback rather than fly-half - he has a great opportunity to showcase his talents.
Key Battle: Both sides have been battling Mother Nature in their preparation for the game but the back-row battle looks like it could be just as frosty with the in-form Willem Alberts, the always industrious Juan Smith and Ryan Kankowski going up against Kiwi Rodney So'oialo, Welsh veteran Martyn Williams and uncapped New Zealander Colin Bourke.
Trivia: The Barbarians' victory over the All Blacks last year was largely inspired by a hat-trick from Springboks winger Bryan Habana and captain Victor Matfield.
Stats: The Barbarians have played South Africa a total of six times with the Springboks claiming victories in 1952 (17-3), 1970 (21-12) and 2000 (41-31). But the Baa Baas can point to wins in 1961 (6-0), 1994 (23-15) and 2007 (22-15).
"We will do the same thing that the Barbarians always do - we will keep the ball in hand and look to score tries." - Barbarians coach Nick Mallett promises some entertainment from his side
"Our results have not been up to our usual standard this year but we have to take it on the chin and make sure things are better in 2011. The confidence and talent is still there, as you saw against England." - Springboks lock Bakkies Botha insists there will be no let up from his side
Prediction: The distinct Wallabies/All Blacks flavour to the Barbarians' back division is their trump card but they face an epic battle to secure the ball against a Boks side that re-discovered their self-belief last time out. Expect the Baa Baas to make the most of their opportunities and claim another famous win - but only just.
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