Double boost for Boks

RYAN VREDE, in Dublin, writes Jean de Villiers and Francois Louw participated fully in Tuesday’s training session and will start against Ireland on Saturday.

De Villiers was ruled out of the Currie Cup play-offs with a hamstring injury sustained in the Springboks’ final Rugby Championship match in Soweto and has been carefully managed since in the hope that he would recover for the tour opener. The Springboks’ skipper didn’t train fully at Blackrock College RFC on Monday, but participated in a defensive session today, showing no signs of discomfort.

Louw hurt his neck on club duty for Bath a fortnight ago and was sidelined for the clash against London Welsh last weekend, but also appears to have made a full recovery and will start at openside flank, with Marcell Coetzee, who stood in for him in yesterday’s training drills, on the bench as cover.

The formation the Springboks ran this afternoon further indicated that Pat Lambie has trumped Morne Steyn for the starting berth at flyhalf. Lambie is also likely to assume goal-kicking duties ahead of Ruan Pienaar, although the latter is a very competent goal-kicker for his Irish club side Ulster, and will be used if Lambie’s boot betrays him.

Interestingly, Elton Jantjies slotted in at pivot for what was almost certainly the reserves, meaning Steyn is unlikely to make the match 22. This is in keeping with head coach Heyneke Meyer’s belief that Steyn is not the type of impact player he needs.

Hooker Schalk Brits is, and will inject pace, skill and athleticism into the contest when he replaces Adriaan Strauss. With the forecast for fine, cold but largely clear conditions, the stage is set for Brits to impress on his return to Test rugby after a four-year absence.