RYAN VREDE, in Dublin, reports Pat Lambie will start at flyhalf against Ireland, while Morne Steyn is still in the mix.
Lambie emerged as a strong competitor for the flyhalf berth with an impressive Super Rugby campaign and commanding performances in the Currie Cup. Initially seen primarily as a fullback, Lambie now has a chance to advance his cause to play in his preferred position at pivot.
With Heyneke Meyer committed to settling on a deputy for Johan Goosen for the 2013 season onward, Lambie will know he has been handed the inside lane in that race.
Steyn comes onto the bench in what can only be ascribed to Meyer’s fears around Lambie’s tactical aptitude. Steyn was dropped from the match 22 for the home leg of the Rugby Championship, with Meyer saying he didn’t have the attributes to warrant his retention as an impact player.
However, Meyer has made consistent references to Steyn’s tactical prowess, and was forthright in his reasons for picking Steyn ahead of Elton Jantjies.
‘I don’t believe in a pecking order so I won’t say Elton was second behind Johan Goosen [from the Soweto Test]. I believe in horses for courses,’ Meyer said.
‘I just felt I didn’t want to be in a position like we were in Soweto when Goosen went off injured in the first 10 minutes and then have to replace him with a youngster who is inexperienced. Morne has 40-odd Tests and has played on the year-end tour before, so he is an insurance policy. Elton will get his chance at the right time. As far as Pat goes, I want to see what he can do. He has really impressed me recently and his goal-kicking has been superb in difficult conditions, he is in the zone, which is what ultimately got him the start.’
Elsewhere Jean de Villiers and Francois Louw have overcome injuries to start, but this is not the case for Gurthro Steenkamp, who picked up a knock playing for Toulouse at the weekend.
Hooker Schalk Brits is involved in the match 22 for the first time in four years, edging out Chiliboy Ralepelle. ‘Chili has been injured a lot this year. Scrummaging is so important here and Schalk Brits has been in superb form. Chili will never let you down, but you want an impact from the bench and with most of the games being won in the last 10 minutes, we’ve really lacked someone who can come on and make the difference. Schalk is just a better impact player,’ Meyer said.
The bench has a dynamic look about it with the industrious and abrasive Flip van der Merwe and Marcell Coetzee included, while Juan de Jongh and Lwazi Mvovo have the aptitude to exploit the space that will open up in the final quarter.
The forecast is for cold but clear conditions at kick-off on Saturday. Ireland announce their team on Thursday and are expected to name skipper Paul O’Connell and experienced prop Cian Healy in their run-on side.
Springboks – 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermuelen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
16 Schalk Brits, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Morne Steyn, 22 Juan de Jongh, 23 Lwazi Mvovo