x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Springboks go strength for strength; Wallabies' Genia out six months

South Africa will attempt to battle the All Blacks where New Zealand is strongest - at the breakdown. In Australia, the Wallabies will be without Will Genia for six months.

Flip van der Merwe gets the call to the Springboks' starting line-up in place of the suspended Eben Etzebeth when South Africa visit New Zealand to face the All Blacks.
Flip van der Merwe gets the call to the Springboks' starting line-up in place of the suspended Eben Etzebeth when South Africa visit New Zealand to face the All Blacks.

Heyneke Meyer, the South Africa coach, has selected a side specifically to try to stop in-form New Zealand from playing the dominant rugby that has seen them win their opening three games in this season's Rugby Championship.

The Springboks take on the All Blacks in Dunedin on Saturday, and Meyer said his team has been chosen to try to combat their opponents in their strongest areas.

Meyer has made just two changes to the side that lost 26-19 to Australia last weekend for their first defeat of the tournament, with Flip van der Merwe coming in for the suspended lock Eben Etzebeth and Francois Louw replacing Marcell Coetzee at flanker.

"New Zealand are best in contesting at the breakdown. We decided to go with Flo [Louw] because he's a specialist. It's a horses for courses approach," Meyer said.

"Marcell has been very good this season and has played a lot of rugby, but in this match we feel he will be more useful as an impact option."

Jannie du Plessis, the prop forward, has been included in the South Africa team despite struggling with a hamstring injury which he picked up during the Australia game.

Meyer is confident Du Plessis, who has until tomorrow to prove his fitness, will take the field, but said if there are any doubts on his ability to last the 80 minutes then he will not be picked.

"We will not take any chances with injured players and we have time to get him and Pat [Cilliers] match ready," Meyer said.

The Springboks are limited in the props they can call on if Du Plessis is ruled out, with fellow front-row forward Pat Cilliers suffering from an elbow strain.

Dean Greyling has been named on the bench but is a preferred loose-head prop.

"If Dean comes on it will be a huge, huge test, especially against the best loose head [Tony Woodcock] in world rugby. But Dean has impact and he's fresh," Meyer said.

The 20-year-old Etzebeth was suspended for two weeks for butting the Wallaby lock Nathan Sharpe during the Springboks' 26-19 defeat but Meyer said the experience of 17-Test Van der Merwe would prove to be important against the All Blacks.

"Even having an experienced pack is a tough challenge against the All Blacks but we are excited," he said. "I know people don't give us a chance but I believe this team is growing. They will have to step up. I have confidence in the pack."

Andries Bekker takes over as the reserve lock after Van der Merwe's promotion to the starting 15. The Springboks sought to bring the veteran Bakkies Botha to New Zealand as second row cover but his French club Toulon refused to release him.



Australia’s stand-in captain Will Genia will be out for six months after undergoing surgery on Wednesday on a knee injury suffered in the 26-19 Rugby Championship win over South Africa on Saturday.

The Wallabies rallied from behind to beat the Springboks in Perth, drawing a line under their humiliating 22-0 drubbing by New Zealand in the second game of the four-nations championship.

But victory came at a steep cost, with Genia hobbling from the ground late in the game with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee – the third Australian captain to be felled by injury this year.-

The scrum-half had been standing in for David Pocock, who was ruled out by a knee injury, and Pocock had in turn been wearing the captain’s armband in the absence of James Hanwell, who suffered a hamstring injury.

Rugby officials said the injured half-back underwent surgery in Brisbane yesterday and a “full reconstruction was required of the ACL”.

“Today’s procedure went well but Genia will now be sidelined for an estimated six months of rehabilitation before he can return to the field of play,” a team spokesman said.

The veteran lock Nathan Sharpe leads Australia on to the park for Saturday’s Test against Argentina.

Nick Phipps will replace Genia in the No 9 position for the game.


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