De Villiers rings the changes
November 26, 2009
Springboks skipper John Smit will be packing down at hooker against the Irish © Getty Images
South Africa coach Peter De Villiers has made six changes to his side for their meeting with Ireland at Croke Park on Saturday, including switching skipper John Smit to hooker in an attempt to shore up their shaky scrum.
Smith has not started a Test in the No.2 jersey since the Springboks' win over England in 2008 and is joined in the front-row by Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira and one of three exiles in the side, Ulster's BJ Botha.
Another two are on the bench, where Leinster's CJ van der Linde returns from injury and there is a surprise call for Munster centre Jean de Villiers following an injury to Adi Jacobs. Wynand Olivier starts in place of Jacobs, alongside Jaque Fourie.
Morne Steyn and Fourie du Preez are back in the saddle at halfback and there is a return to the No.7 jersey for Schalk Burger. Danie Rossouw shifts from blindside to No.8 with Heinrich Brussow starting on the openside. Victor Matfield is recalled to the second-row after a well-earned rest last weekend and starts as always with Bakkies Botha.
South Africa: Z Kirchner (Blue Bulls); J Pietersen (Sharks), J Fourie (Lions), W Olivier (Blue Bulls), B Habana (Blue Bulls); M Steyn (Blue Bulls), F du Preez (Blue Bulls); T Mtawarira (Sharks), J Smit (Sharks, capt), BJ Botha (Ulster), B Botha (Blue Bulls), V Matfield (Blue Bulls), H Brussow (Cheetahs), S Burger (Western Province), D Rossouw (Blue Bulls).
Replacements: B du Plessis (Sharks), CJ van der Linde (Leinster) A Bekker (Western Province), J Deysel (Sharks), D Potgieter (Blue Bulls), R Pienaar (Sharks), J de Villiers (Munster)