x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

One change as Springboks go with familiarity

Peter de Villiers, the South Africa coach, has made one change to his starting line-up for Saturday's Tri Nations Test against Australia in Bloemfontein.

Peter de Villiers, the South Africa coach, has made one change to his starting line-up for Saturday's Tri Nations Test against Australia in Bloemfontein. Danie Rossouw, the lock, who has been struggling with a hip injury, returns to the starting side after two weeks on the bench, swapping with Flip van der Merwe, the 25-year-old, who impressed in his first Tri Nations starts over the last fortnight.

De Villiers also made one injury-enforced change on the bench, with Gio Aplon replacing Butch James, the Bath fly-half, who injured his shoulder when making a thumping tackle in last weekend's 44-31 win over the Wallabies in Pretoria. The match is the Springboks' last in this year's tournament and there had been expectation within the South African media that De Villiers would use the occasion as a chance to experiment with some of the younger players, with nothing at stake other than pride.

But De Villiers has gone with the men he knows best, and he said at a press conference yesterday: "I wasn't tempted to make more changes, all our focus is on this one game and we can only take our future planning from there afterwards." The coach said that he was still keeping a close eye on several other players, especially Bismarck du Plessis, the hooker, and Tendai Mtawarira, the loose-head prop forward.

Du Plessis recently returned from a neck injury, while Zimbabwe-born Mtawarira has not played a Test this year after controversy over his eligibility to play for South Africa. "Both will be back at the end of the year and in top form," De Villiers added. "It's good to have competition in the team." * Agency France-Presse