x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Springboks to face hungry Lions without Burger

The openside flanker Heinrich Brussow is included in the Springbok starting line-up for the opening Test against the British and Irish Lions in Durban.

DURBAN // The openside flanker Heinrich Brussow was included in the Springbok starting line-up today for the opening Test against the British and Irish Lions at Kings Park Stadium at the weekend. Brussow, who gave the visitors a number of headaches at the breakdown when he played for the Cheetahs in the Lions' narrow 26-24 win on June 6, is in for Schalk Burger who is still battling a calf injury.

Brussow will be making his first start after earning his first cap from the bench in the Twickenham victory against England in November 2008. His inexperience is the exception in a line-up that includes 16 players from the match 22 from that victory in the last Test played by the world champion Springboks. The replacement fly-half Morne Steyn is the only uncapped player in the squad. "I was disappointed to miss out on selection into the original squad," said Brussow, "but I am very happy about being called in. It will be great to be part of the squad and the Lions series and I am going to grab my chances with both hands."

John Smit, the most experienced member of the team with 81 Tests, will lead the Springboks for the 56th time in his career in their first Test against the Lions since the 1997 series which was won 2-1 by the visitors. Smit has been selected at tighthead prop instead of hooker, where he played 77 Tests. The Test will be the 44th encounter between the Springboks and the Lions since 1891. South Africa has won 21, the Lions 16 and six have been drawn. It will be the fourth Test between the Springboks and the Lions to be played in Durban. The Springboks have won two of the previous three (1924 and 1962) and the Lions one (1997).

In the other significant change to the Springbok team, Francois Steyn has been included at fullback, taking the place of the injured Conrad Jantjes and the retired Percy Montgomery. The 22-year-old will be making his sixth appearance for South Africa at fullback, having played 14 of his 27 Tests at centre.

Francois Steyn; J.P. Pietersen, Adrian Jacobs, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana; Ruan Pienaar, Fourie du Preez; Pierre Spies, Juan Smith, Heinrich Brussow, Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, John Smit (captain), Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: Deon Carstens, Gurthro Steenkamp, Andries Bekker, Danie Rossouw, Ricky Januarie, Morne Steyn, Jaque Fourie. * AP