x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Brussow rewarded

Openside flanker Heinrich Brussow will make his first start for South Africa in the first Test against the British & Irish Lions in Durban on Saturday.

Free State Cheetah earns spot against Lions for his performances in Super 14 season Openside flanker Heinrich Brussow will make his first start for South Africa in the first Test against the British & Irish Lions in Durban on Saturday. Brussow, 22, joined the squad on Sunday in place of Schalk Burger, who has failed to recover from a calf injury. He won his first cap off the bench against England at Twickenham last year.

Although Brussow impressed for the Free State Cheetahs when they lost to 26-24 to the Lions, the Springbok captain John Smit said he had been selected because of his performances in the season. "He is very good at what he does," Smit said yesterday. "He has not been picked on one performance against the Lions. He has been picked on how much he has irritated every single team he has played against in the Super 14."

There were no major surprises in the South Africa team with flyhalf and fullback being the only contentious positions. Ruan Pienaar, the incumbent fly-half, holds on to his position despite missing a large part of the Super 14 season with injury while utility back Frans Steyn was named at fullback. "Frans is a player that can carry the ball up well, he can take the high ball and he has a good kicking game," South Africa's assistant coach Dick Muir said. "It was a horses for courses decision."

Meanwhile, the Lions beat the Southern Kings 20-8 in a game of brutal intensity at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium yesterday. But the tourists did not escape unscathed, as their prop Euan Murray and flyhalf James Hook both went off injured inside the first 15 minutes. Murray suffered an ankle sprain while Hook was on the receiving end of a tackle. Port Elizabeth lived up to its reputation as a battleground for overseas teams and there was ill-feeling after the final whistle, with centre Gordon D'Arcy appearing to refuse to shake hands with his opposite number De Wet Barry.

* Agencies