Jean boosts Boks

Jean de Villiers is the only change to the Springbok starting XV to play the All Blacks in the Vodacom Tri-Nations match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

De Villiers replaces local boy Wynand Olivier at inside centre. Olivier drops to the bench. De Villiers has missed the last five Tests after breaking ribs in the first Test against Scotland in Durban in June and while Olivier has been an admirable replacement, De Villiers’ presence was sorely missed.

He has shown no discomfort at practice this week and his inclusion is a major boost for the Boks. Olivier though can consider himself unlucky to miss out at his home ground after five Tests in-a-row.

De Villiers, capped 21 times, joins Jaque Fourie (23 caps) in the midfield again. It was a combination that did very well for the Boks in the past and their effort will be closely monitored at the weekend.

“I’m very happy to be back,” de Villiers told keo.co.za. “It is always a great honour to play for the Springboks. I just hope I can make a difference and add a new dimension.”

There are also three changes on the bench. Ruan Pienaar replaces Ricky Januarie, Andre Pretorius is in for Meyer Bosman and Olivier takes over from the out-of-favour Jaco van der Westhuyzen.

Although Juan Smith was included in the starting line-up his participation is in doubt. He has recovered from a right hamstring injury, but picked up a left quad muscle problem at practice this morning that could keep him from playing.

“I’m not sure about Juan at all,” White told reporters after announcing his team. “He has gone off now to get checked and I’ll probably know a bit more later on this afternoon.”

“Juan has been one of the stars of the season and was a form player in the Super 14 too. He’s creeping up to 30 Test caps and he was playing U21 rugby only three years ago. He’s definitely needed in the team.”

White said that if he lost Smith, coupled with the already debilitating injuries to, Bakkies Botha, Schalk Burger and Gurthro Steenkamp it would be like “fielding a South African B team.”

“I might bring in AJ (Venter), Pierre Spies or Pedrie Wannenburg as cover, but we will only make a call on that once we have seen the results of Juan’s scans.”

Springbok team to play the All Blacks:
15 Percy Montgomery
14 Akona Ndungane
13 Jaque Fourie
12 Jean de Villiers
11 Bryan Habana
10 Butch James
9 Fourie du Preez

8 Jacques Cronje
7 Juan Smith
6 Solly Tyibilika
5 Victor Matfield
4 Johann Muller
3 CJ van der Linde
2 John Smit (captain)
1 Os du Randt

Replacements:
16 Chiliboy Ralepelle
17 BJ Botha
18 Albert van den Berg
19 Joe van Niekerk
20 Ruan Pienaar
21 Wynand Olivier
22 Andre Pretorius

By Andrew Hollely, at the Holiday Inn Beatrix Street