Peter de Villiers has named the matchday 22 for the first Test against the Lions this Saturday in Durban.
de Villiers has ended months of speculation by naming a largely expected XV to face the Lions, with only 3 main points of contention – full back, fly-half and openside – and he has responded by picking Francois Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, and Lions tormentor Heinrich Brüssow.
An injury to incumbent Conrad Jantjes allowed Steyn into the side at full-back, while another injury to Jantjes’ Stormers team-mate, Schalk Burger, sees Cheetahs star Heinrich Brüssow handed his first Test start.
The loss of Schalk Burger is a major blow for the Boks, with Peter de Villiers admitting that ” 60% of our forward play revolves around him [Burger]”.
South Africa assistant coach Dick Muir said: “Obviously Heinrich is not much of a lineout option but I don’t think much of our preparation has changed.
“Heinrich is highly regarded and is coming into this game after a great Super 14. He provided an encouraging performance against the Lions, but we knew he was going to be an option before that match.
“It’s a well balanced backline with some strong ball carriers, good kickers and tremendous pace. Frans’s [Steyn] selection speaks for itself. He’s a good ball carrier, great under the high ball and has a fantastic kicking game. It’s also a case of horses for courses as we know what to expect from the Lions.
“Ruan is really confident and hasn’t shown any worries over the knee injury. His improvement from last week to this week has been immense, and although the competition within our squad is stiff, we have full confidence Ruan is the right call.”
What do you think? Does this team have what it takes to beat the Lions? Will they be undercooked?
South Africa: F Steyn (Sharks), JP Pietersen (Sharks), A Jacobs (Sharks), J de Villiers (Stormers), B Habana (Bulls), R Pienaar (Sharks), F du Preez (Bulls); T Mtawarira (Sharks), B du Plessis (Sharks), J Smit (Sharks), B Botha (Bulls), V Matfield (Bulls), H Brüssow (Cheetahs), J Smith (Cheetahs), P Spies (Bulls).
Replacements: G Steenkamp (Bulls), D Carstens (Sharks), A Bekker (Stormers), D Rossouw (Bulls), E Januarie (Stormers), J Fourie (Lions), M Steyn (Bulls).