SOUTH AFRICAN RUGBY coach Heyneke Meyer has named the team that started in a decisive win over Australia last weekend for a Rugby Championship Test against New Zealand.
It was a predictable decision by Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer as the 31-8 triumph over the Wallabies got the team back on the winning trail after a draw in Argentina and losses in Australia and New Zealand.
There is one change among the seven replacements with prop Coenie Oosthuizen, who can scrum at loosehead or tighthead, back on the bench in place of Pat Cilliers after his late neck-related withdrawal from the matchday 22 last week.
Inside centre Francois Steyn, who also pulled out on the eve of the Australia Test, underwent surgery on a knee problem Wednesday and also misses the end-of-season tour to Europe in November.
Although the All Blacks clinched the maiden Rugby Championship title last weekend with a 54-15 whipping of Argentina in La Plata, a clash with the Springboks, which will take place at Soccer City in Soweto, never fails to stir the imagination.
The teams met at the 90,000-seat Soccer City stadium once before in 2010 with New Zealand staging a late comeback to triumph 29-22 via tries by captain Richie McCaw and full-back Israel Dagg.
Getting their kicks
Meyer admitted at a media conference that poor goal kicking – usually a Springbok strength – was a concern going into the final round match in the southern hemisphere championship.
Failure to translate penalties and conversions into points reached a new low in the last two Tests, away to the All Blacks and at home to the Wallabies, with seven of nine shots missed in Dunedin and six of nine in Pretoria.
Long-time fly-half Morne Steyn was dropped after the 21-11 defeat in New Zealand and a bruised heel hampered 20-year-old replacement Johan Goosen, who gave way to scrum-half Ruan Pienaar after two early misses at Loftus Versfeld.
The coach said a decision on who will be the first-choice kicker in Soweto had still to be taken as Goosen started training only Wednesday after missing Monday and Tuesday sessions. Meyer said:
To beat the All Blacks we need at least an 80 percent success rate and so far this season we have managed to get over 50 percent only a couple of times.”
Apart from Pienaar and Goosen, outside centre Jaco Taute can kick at goal and replacement backs Elton Jantjies and Patrick Lambie have had high success rates in Currie Cup matches.
If the ‘Boks lose to the All Blacks it will mean a 100th international Test match win for McCaw.
South Africa: Zane Kirchner; Bryan Habana, Jaco Taute, Jean de Villiers (c), Francois Hougaard; Johan Goosen, Ruan Pienaar; Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Tendai Mtawarira; Eben Etzebeth, Andries Bekker; Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw.
Replacements: Tiaan Liebenberg, Coenie Oosthuizen, Flip van der Merwe, Marcell Coetzee, Elton Jantjies, Juan de Jongh, Patrick Lambie.