x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Plessis and Botha come back to bolster the Boks

The South Africa selectors keep faith in the squad which defeated the British and Irish Lions.

With South Africa's Tri-Nations opener against New Zealand only 10 days away, the selectors have kept faith in the squad which defeated the British and Irish Lions. All but one player in the Boks' 23-man squad, for the forthcoming clashes, were involved in the 2-1 series win. Tighthead prop Janine du Plessis - drafted in for Deon Carstens - is the sole addition. "Janine has been a part of the squad since 2007 and still has much to offer," said coach Peter de Villiers. "He was unfortunate to miss out on selection for the Lions series but gets his opportunity in the Tri-Nations," he added.

Du Plessis won the last of his seven Test caps in the Boks' landslide 42-6 dismantling of England at Twickenham eight months ago. The Sharks player will cover captain John Smit and replaces Carstens - benched throughout the Lions Tests. De Villiers enters the Boks' decisive Tri-Nations home fixtures without his suspended flanker Schalk Burger, still serving out an eight-week ban for the notorious eye-gouge attack on Lions wing Luke Fitzgerald.

However, the coach will take consolation from understudy Heinrich Brussow's assured display in the following third Test. One of the Boks' most prominent recent discoveries, Brussow should provide valuable strength in the vital loose ball tussles against the Kiwis' Richie McCaw and Wallabies' George Smith. Lock Bakkies Botha, returning following his own two-week ban for dangerous charging against the Lions, provides additional power to the squad. "The core squad has great potential as a unit and we believe they have much to offer," he said. "We have remained consistent in our selection policy."

South Africa kick-off their against the All Blacks in Bloemfontein on July 25. The Boks face the All Blacks again, in Durban a week later, before hosting Australia in Cape Town on August 8. De Villiers side start the overseas leg of their campaign against the Wallabies in Perth on August 29. emegson@thenational.ae