Big Joe makes biggest statement

Joe van Niekerk was the biggest winner from Saturday’s Springbok XV win against the World XV.

Van Niekerk, forced out of the end of year tour in 2005, made a belated start to the Vodacom Super 14. He played well, but lost ground in the final league match against the Bulls and sentiment about the No 8 Bok jumper seemed to favour the Bulls Jacques Cronje or Pedrie Wanneburg.

However, Van Niekerk may have done just enough to be given the run on responsibility in the first test against Scotland in a pack that will show a probable five changes to the one that struggled against the World XV.

Os du Randt, John Smit, Victor Matfield, Schalk Burger and Juan Smith are all expected to start, with White’s only decision being who gets the No 8 jersey.

Among the backs Breyton Paulse will replace Gaffie du Toit on the wing and Fourie du Preez’s more effective kicking game will mean a start ahead of Ricky Januarie.

It is Van Niekerk’s form, though, that would have given White some consolation from the debacle at Ellis Park.