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Rugby | Springboks

De Jongh only definite change for Murrayfield

Heyneke Meyer has spoken about the possibility of resting skipper Jean de Villiers when the Springboks play Scotland in Murrayfield on Saturday, but the probability is that there will be only one change to the side that beat Ireland last week.

While the Bok coach hinted at a press conference before lunch on Monday that his team may have an alternative captain leading them onto the field for their second tour match, it didn’t look that way when the squad trained at Pefermill in the afternoon.

De Villiers spent most of the small structure portion of the session running in his usual position of inside centre, with Juan de Jongh playing outside him.

And the bulk of the session was also spent with CJ van der Linde running as the loosehead prop, which suggests that Gurthro Steenkamp will make his return to Bok rugby from the bench at Murrayfield rather than as a member of the starting team.

At the same press conference, Meyer spoke about how fortunate he was that Steenkamp had recovered from his rib injury and was able to replace Beast Mtawarira, who has flown home to undergo a minor medical procedure to correct the cause of the heart palpitations that forced him to miss the match against Ireland.

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Meyer did say that he hadn’t cast anything in stone as yet, and perhaps the team will be changed again at training on Tuesday, but at this stage it appears likely that Jaco Taute, who did not run in the midfield on Monday, will be playing off the bench. Zane Kirchner has been solid at fullback and continues to vindicate Meyer’s faith him with each performance.

The Bok coach had said that although he still sees fullback as Taute’s best position, he was considering pairing Taute and De Jongh up in the midfield in order to give skipper De Villiers a break.

Meyer was responding to a question at a press conference at the team hotel in Edinburgh on where the inform De Jongh stood in his plans. The omission of De Jongh, the star of Western Province’s recent win over the Sharks in the Currie Cup final in Durban, was one of the talking points before the match against Dublin in Ireland last week.

“I definitely want to give Juan a chance, the reason I left him out last week was just because I wanted to keep changes to a minimum from the perspective of what we needed on defence,” said Meyer.

“I haven’t made up my mind completely about this yet, and I still need to talk to a few people, but I would like to institute a rotation policy in the midfield. I thought Jaco Taute played his best test so far against Ireland, so it is a case of whether we play Jaco and Juan together in the midfield, or whether we pair up Juan with Jean.”

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Asked if that meant he was thinking of leaving out his captain, Meyer said that there was a chance De Villiers would not be leading the side at Murrayfield.

“I am thinking of giving Jean a rest this week as he has been struggling a bit with that hamstring injury that has been bothering him recently,” he said.

“I still believe fullback is Jaco’s best position, and would love to play him there now, but I don’t want to make too many changes for the Scotland game. I think we should be looking to build momentum, and we did not play well last time out against Ireland. I have a lot of respect for Scotland.

“They may have lost heavily to the All Blacks but it was mainly in a period of 10 minutes that the All Blacks did most of the damage. Scotland scored three tries, which is not something we or Australia have managed against New Zealand this year.”

The Bok team will only be finalised later and named on Wednesday, but Lambie ran at flyhalf on Monday and Meyer confirmed that he would continue in the No 10.

“He didn’t have much opportunity to stamp his authority on the game in the first half but he showed some nice touches in the second and Pat also knows he is capable of better so I would like to back him and give him a chance to gain confidence going forward by building on his performance,” said Meyer.


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