Bakkies Botha has been withdrawn from the Springbok side to play France at Newlands.
Danie Rossouw, who was expected to start on the flank, keeps the No 4 jersey with Joe van Niekerk at flank and Pedrie Wannenburg at No 8.
“[Bok physio] Clint Readhead came up to me this morning and said Bakkies wouldn’t be 100%,” White said on Wednesday. “If we were playing a World Cup final or a Tri-Nations decider we would risk him, but we’d rather give him another week to recover.”
There is no sign of Wikus van Heerden, whose international comeback seems to have been ended by the World XV three weeks ago. White had said Van Heerden was his replacement for Burger, but now that there is no Burger there is still no Van Heerden.
Enter Van Niekerk, who on French scrum ball is likely to pack down in the openside role as White looks for a counter to Betsen. The French veteran is not quite the force of old, but he will still prove a handful to the Boks because of the absence of a specialist openside flanker in the line-up.
France will definitely feel they have the edge among the loose-forwards, especially in continuity as they will pick the Biarritz loose-trio who have spent the last year in each other’s company.
The other changes to the Boks are predictable, if short-sighted. De Wet Barry returns to No 12 as Wayne Julies (a specialist 12) continues to warm the bench. Julies was a sub in Port Elizabeth while Barry was in Cape Town. Julies is still a sub.
White will defend the selection on the basis of Barry’s workrate at the breakdown and his physical presence in the midfield; something he believes is crucial against an imposing French midfield. But how long term is it?
The pocket rocket gets a rare outing on the right wing for the injured Breyton Paulse.
15 Percy Montgomery, 14 Brent Russell, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 De Wet Barry, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Jaco van der Westhuyzen, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pedrie Wannenburg, 7 Juan Smith, 6 Joe van Niekerk, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Danie Rossouw, 3 Eddie Andrews, 2 John Smit (c), 1 O du Randt.
Subs: 16 Gary Botha, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Albert van den Burg, 19 Jacques Cronje, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Wayne Julies, 22 Gaffie du Toit.