All change for Springboks
July 1, 2009
Sharks skipper Johann Muller starts for the Springboks © Getty Images
Peter De Villiers Bakkies Botha Heinrich Brussow Schalk Burger Jaque Fourie Zane Kirchner Johann Muller Jongi Nokwe Wynand Olivier
South Africa coach Peter de Villiers has named a much-changed side for the third Test against the British & Irish Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday.
De Villiers' Springboks take an unassailable 2-0 series lead in to the final Test, and the coach has duly taken the opportunity to introduce several of his squad members in to the fray ahead of the Tri-Nations. Lock Bakkies Botha and flanker Schalk Burger are both unavailable due to suspension, with Sharks skipper Johann Muller and Cheetahs openside Heinrich Brussow stepping in.
In a week where South African rugby has been under fierce scrutiny due to the remarks by de Villiers over Burger's eight-week ban for eye-gouging, a loss to the Lions would provide extra ammunition to those dissenting voices that have plagued de Villiers both at home and abroad.
John Smit leads the side from a front-row showing one change, hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle stepping in in place of Bismarck du Plessis, who starts on the bench. Victor Matfield completes the second-row alongside Muller, while Brussow is joined in the back-row by Juan Smith and explosive Sharks No.8 Ryan Kankowski.
In the backs, Morne Steyn, the hero of the second Test win last weekend, gets his first start in a Springbok jersey alongside Fourie du Preez. There is an all-new centre partnership with Wynand Olivier and Jaque Fourie wearing No.12 and 13 respectively, and in the back-three it's also all change. Bulls fullback Zane Kirchner wins his first cap alongside Odwa Ndungane and Jongi Nokwe.
"It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to play against the Lions and we respect them so much, that we wanted to give all our players a chance to take them on," said De Villiers.
"We believe they are as good as the other guys and that they can go out and do an outstanding job for the Springboks. They will also bring fresh energy to the team after two tough Tests and hopefully give us the quick ball to our backs, because we have shown we are capable of scoring tries from first phase."
South Africa: Z Kirchner (Bulls); O Ndungane (Sharks), J Fourie (Lions), W Olivier (Bulls), J Nokwe (Cheetahs); M Steyn (Bulls), F du Preez (Bulls); T Mtawarira (Sharks), C Ralepelle (Bulls), J Smit (Sharks), J Muller (Sharks), V Matfield (Bulls), H Brussow (Cheetahs), J Smith (Cheetahs), R Kankowski (Sharks).
Replacements: B du Plessis (Sharks), G Steenkamp (Bulls), D Carstens (Sharks), S Sykes (Sharks), P Spies (Bulls), R Pienaar (Sharks), F Steyn (Sharks)