Boks go for experience for Aussie Test

Friday, August 12, 2011
Kemantha Govender

Durban - South Africa will be fielding a side that looks a lot like the one that was crowned World Cup champions in 2007.

The Springboks take on Australia in a Tri-Nations Series Test at Mr Price Kings Park in Durban on Saturday and have made 13 changes to the side that was butchered by the All Blacks.

Fourie du Preez and Heinrich Brussow will return to the starting line-up for the first time in 21 months.

Du Preez missed the 2010 international seasonal because of a shoulder operation, while Brussow was ruled out by a knee ligament injury.

The starting XV is the most experienced in the history of Springbok rugby, with a combined total of 810 caps, comfortably surpassing the previous record of 750 caps among the team that met Australia in Bloemfontein last season.

Captain John Smit and looseforward Danie Rossouw are the only survivors in the starting XV from Wellington; another three players - Morne Steyn, Jean Deysel and Gerhard Mostert - have been retained among the replacements.

JP Pietersen, Jaque Fourie, Butch James and Gurthro Steenkamp - who all missed the end-of-year tour because of injury - have all been drafted into the team which will be looking to salvage some pride in this year's Tri-Nations.

"We still have a number of leading players unavailable through injury, but this is the strongest squad we have been able to choose from since 2009," said Springbok coach Peter de Villiers.

"It's great to have Fourie and Heinrich back as they were two of the leading players in world rugby when they last played in 2009, and they contributed a lot to Springbok success that season. This is the first step back for them, but we're looking to them to have the same impact in due course."

Schalk Burger, Juan Smith, Willem Alberts and uncapped Duane Vermeulen remain in rehabilitation while Andries Bekker has been ruled out of the Rugby World Cup because of an ankle tendon injury.

"This team has vast experience and a strong leadership core, but that counts for nothing at kick off on Saturday," said De Villiers.

"This Australian team are no respecter of reputations - we saw that last year in Bloemfontein - and we know just how dangerous they can be. They will be highly motivated and hurting after their last result and they have a good recent record against us. They will know we have just come together and they'll be looking to exploit that."

Saturday's Test match will be the 73rd Test between South Africa and Australia of which 41 have been won by the Springboks. But Australia have won four of the last five.

Team South Africa

15 Frans Steyn (Racing Metro, France), 42 caps
14 JP Petersen (The Sharks), 36
13 Jaque Fourie (DHL Western Province), 62
12 Jean de Villiers (DHL Western Province), 67
11 Bryan Habana (DHL Western Province), 68
10 Butch James (MTN Golden Lions), 40
9 Fourie du Preez (Vodacom Blue Bulls), 55
8 Pierre Spies (Vodacom Blue Bulls), 40
7 Danie Rossouw (Vodacom Blue Bulls), 56
6 Heinrich Br~ssow (Toyota Free State Cheetahs), 13
5 Victor Matfield (Vodacom Blue Bulls), 105
4 Bakkies Botha (Vodacom Blue Bulls), 72
3 Jannie du Plessis (The Sharks), 24
2 John Smit (captain) (The Sharks), 104
1 Tendai Mtawarira (The Sharks), 26
16 Bismarck du Plessis (The Sharks), 36
17 Gurthr" Steenkamp (Vodacom Blue Bulls), 31
18 Gerhard Mostert (Stade Francais, France), 1
19 Jean Deysel (The Sharks), 3
20 Francois Hougaard (Vodacom Blue Bulls), 8
21 Morne Steyn (Vodacom Blue Bulls), 27
22 Gio Aplon (DHL Western Province), 14

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