Danie Rossouw and CJ van der Linde are the only changes to the Springbok starting side for Saturday’s Test against the All Blacks in Wellington.
Coach Peter de Villiers has avoided any unforced changes following the 32-12 defeat to New Zealand last Saturday. Rossouw comes in for suspended lock Bakkies Botha while Van der Linde replaces the injured tighthead Jannie du Plessis. As a result, Ryan Kankowski is promoted to the Bok bench.
Captain John Smit welcomed Rossouw’s inclusion.
‘It helps that Danie played at number four for most of the season for the Bulls and is probably playing his best rugby since 2007,’ Smit said.
Coach Peter de Villiers said: ‘I haven’t given CJ his rightful chance so far this year and I expect a lot from him because the hunger should be there.’
Despite an ordinary showing in Auckland, Francois Louw is selected at flank while the Bok coaches have maintained their faith in Wynand Olivier at No 12. Jean de Villiers is retained on the right wing and the solid but limited Zane Kirchner kept at fullback.
De Villiers has also persisted with Ricky Januarie at scrumhalf even though the Stormers’ second-choice No 9 doesn’t have the boot to implement the Boks’ kick-chase strategy. However, this a secondary concern to the match-costing pitfall at Eden Park, namely the Boks’ lack of physicality.
Whether Rossouw is the man to restore their brutish pride remains to be seen. Auckland witnessed a battle for balance, as the Boks were savagely beaten at the collision point. In the other extreme, Botha was cited and later suspended for his example of thoughtless aggression: an off-the-ball headbutt on All Blacks scrumhalf Jimmy Cowan.
What Rossouw can provide is stability having excelled alongside Victor Matfield for the Bulls and in the first three matches of the Test season.
De Villiers meanwhile was philosophical about their Eden Park defeat and stressed that an exponential improvement was required.
‘The way you lose is not as important as how you stand up from such a defeat,’ he said. ‘The guys know they didn’t perform well, they remain proud and they realise that they have hard work ahead of them this week.
‘There’s a human side to the players, they are good people and they are realists. They understand that everything is not going to go your way every day.
‘Part of being professional is having to stand up again after those kind of setbacks. It won’t happen every day that everybody is one per cent off their game and if you are one per cent off against a team like the All Blacks, then you will get hammered.
‘Our execution was bad, something happened to make us slower off the mark. But we are aware of it.’
Springbok – 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Jean de Villiers, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bryana Habana, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Danie Rossouw, 3 CJ van der Linde, 2 John Smit (c), 1 Gurthro Steenkamp.
Subs: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 BJ Botha, 18 Andries Bekker, 19 Dewald Potgieter, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Butch James, 22 Gio Aplon.