Out with the old and in with the new. Or is that the other way around? The Springboks and the British & Irish Lions have both named their test sides for this weekend’s donnybrook at Ellis Park in Jo’burg. There is an experimental look to the Bokkies in particular; but with the Lions it’s probably more about ‘the last man standing’.
The Bok coach has made no less than 10 changes to the side that clinched the series with a 28-25 win over the Lions in Pretoria last Saturday. Zane Kirchner will make his Springbok debut in the No 15 jersey and forms a back trio with Sharks wing Odwa Ndungane and Cheetahs flyer Jongi Nokwe. I’m not sure how they’re going to go defensively though?
There’s also a new midfield combination in Wynand Olivier and Jaque Fourie, while the Bulls duo of Fourie du Preez and Morné Steyn will renew their halves partnership. Morné was a gamebreaker when he came on at the end last week.
Ryan Kankowski starts at No 8 at the expense of Pierre Spies, Juan Smith retains his place and, as expected, Heinrich Brussow steps in for the suspended Skulk Burger. Victor is joined in the second row by Sharks captain Johann Muller, who returns to the starting line-up for the first time since 2007. This follows Bakkies being rubbed out for two weeks – their appeal to the Beak being unsuccessful.
There is also a change in the front row where Chiliboy Ralepelle will make his first start in the ‘green and gold’ (I know) when he packs down between The Beast and captain John Smit. It’s about time Chili got his beans, they’ve been touting him as the next big thing for years. Bismarck du Plessis, Pierre Spies, Ruan Pienaar and Frans Steyn all drop down to the bench, which also includes props Gurthro Steenkamp and Deon Carstens and uncapped Sharks lock Steven Sykes.
Coach De Villiers said it’s only fair that every member of the squad get the opportunity to represent their country against the Lions and believes this side is just as strong as the supposed ‘A team’. If you believe that you’d believe anything! And I’d believe anything of that fruit loop……
The Lions are without Brian O’Driscoll, Jamie Roberts, Gethin Jenkins and Adam Jones through injury from last Saturday’s match. Tommy Bowe has moved into outside centre (where he ended up last week) and Ugo Monye is back on the wing. Fitzgerald was dumped altogether – maybe he’s still trying to focus? Shane Williams now gets his chance to overcome his poor form….well, poor for him that is. Ricki Flutey, the pakeha’d maori, is the new inside centre.
In the forwards, Martyn Williams finally gets his chance for Wallance and Joe Worsley for Croft. I’m not sure why they’ve dumped Croft after he’s showed some pretty good form but Worsley is a defensive workhorse, although I don’t think he’s up to this class. Sheridan has squirreled his way in as expected but he’ll have to find someone else to piss off seeing that Bakkies is doin’ porridge. Phil Vickery has come out of retirement for another bout with The Beast. Here’s hoping he’s learnt a thing or two between the cauliflowers in between times.
Commenting on the Lions team selection Head Coach Ian McGeechan said, “It is fair to say injuries have had an impact on the tour as you would expect including selection for the Third Test as we were unfortunate to lose . Last Saturday we were minutes away from winning and that is a huge positive to take into the Third Test. “Andrew Sheridan, Joe Worsley and Martyn Williams will all be part of a Lions starting XV for the first time. Stephen Jones, Mike Phillips, skipper Paul O’Connell and Jamie Heaslip will earn the distinction of being in the starting XV for all three Test matches,” added McGeechan.
The Bokkies will be looking for a series whitewash and I’m expecting another decent stoush but wouldn’t be surprised if the Brits get up this time, just looking at the experimental nature of the South African side. Can’t wait for Vicks v Beast, round 2.
South Africa: Z Kirchner (Bulls); O Ndungane (Sharks), J Fourie (Lions), W Olivier (Bulls), J Nokwe (Cheetahs); M Steyn (Bulls), F du Preez (Bulls); T Mtawarira (Sharks), C Ralepelle (Bulls), J Smit (Sharks, cpt), J Muller (Sharks), V Matfield (Bulls), H Brussow (Cheetahs), J Smith (Cheetahs), R Kankowski (Sharks).
Replacements: B du Plessis (Sharks), G Steenkamp (Bulls), D Carstens (Sharks), S Sykes (Sharks), P Spies (Bulls), R Pienaar (Sharks), F Steyn (Sharks).
British and Irish Lions: R Kearney (Ireland), U Monye (England), T Bowe (Ireland), R Flutey (England), S Williams (Wales), S Jones (Wales), M Phillips (Wales), A Sheridan (England), M Rees (Wales), P Vickery (England), S Shaw (England), P O’Connell (Ireland, captain), Joe Worsley (England), M Williams (Wales), J Heaslip (Ireland)
Replacements: R Ford (Scotland), J Hayes (Ireland), A-W Jones (Wales), D Wallace (Ireland), T Croft (England), H Ellis (England), J Hook (Wales)
Referee: Stu Dickinson (Aus)
Assistants: Christophe Berdos (Fra) & Vinny Munro (NZ)
TMO: Bryce Lawrence (NZ)