RYAN VREDE, in Edinburgh, reports Juan de Jongh is likely to run on against Scotland, while Pat Lambie is expected to be retained at flyhalf.
De Jongh impressed for the Stormers in Super Rugby and recently enjoyed an excellent Currie Cup, scoring in the final. Coach Heyneke Meyer has been reluctant to use him. He is concerned primarily about the player’s size, worrying that this would compromise him in contact situations at Test level.
However, Meyer strongly suggested he sees Scotland as an opportunity to give the 24-year-old game time.
‘We’re a relatively young team and haven’t played together much, we want to keep some continuity. We respect Scotland and won’t just give Test caps away. There won’t be a lot of changes but the one that will probably happen is to see Juan come in. He has been knocking hard on the door and deserves a chance,’ Meyer said.
‘It isn’t definite, I want to speak to some of the [senior] players as well, but he probably will start. We’ll have a rotation policy in that position. Jaco Taute probably had his best Test against Ireland [at outside centre], and we’ll have to see whether we pair Juan and Jaco, who can also play inside centre, and give Jean de Villiers a break. Jean has played with a couple of injuries recently so he needs a rest. Jaco could also play at fullback [replacing Zane Kirchner], but again, I don’t want to make too many changes.’
Meyer is also expected to persist with Lambie at flyhalf after praising his performance at Lansdowne Road in difficult conditions. With the coaching staff in search of quality back-up to the injured Johan Goosen, who’ll reclaim his starting position if he stays fit for the 2013 Test season, Lambie has the inside lane to be that man.
‘I’ll probably stick by Pat,’ Meyer said. ‘It was a difficult start for him because we just didn’t have the ball [in the first half]. The second half was a bit of a catch-up. He did some nice things in possession. He has high standards and so do we, so we’re looking for an improvement. But he showed some good touches and I want to give him some confidence going forward.’
Meyer said there were likely to be changes on the bench, which could see Elton Jantjies replacing Morne Steyn as pivot cover. Elsewhere Gurthro Steenkamp has recovered from a rib injury that kept him out of the weekend’s Test, and will come into the frame to replace Beast Mtawarira, who has been sent home after suffering a recurrence of a heart condition he was treated for earlier this year.
Team doctor Craig Roberts, however, sought to allay fears about Mtawarira’s health and playing future. ‘He has been treated for an irregular heartbeat in hospital in Dublin. This isn’t life threatening or career threatening in any way and he is quite capable of playing with it,’ Roberts said.
‘Heyneke and I had a meeting with him today and made the decision to send him to Cape Town to have a minor procedure done later this week where they try to isolate and eradicate the cells that are causing the irregular rhythm. He had it done earlier this year, but clearly they didn’t get all the cells.
‘Anything can set it off, we don’t actually know precisely what does. I’ve also had quite a few players who’ve had it. Beast has gone into this rhythm a couple of times in the past and we’ve just managed it. I need to make it clear that he could have played this weekend at no risk.’
Meyer added: ‘If it happens again this week we’re back to square one. It worries me and it is at the back of his mind. You want guys out there that are totally focussed. He is also on medication that sometimes slows you down. It is also important for him to be with his family. It was a difficult decision, but the right one we believe.’
Jannie du Plessis picked up an ankle injury in Dublin, but Meyer and Roberts indicated that he was likely to recover. ‘He is looking good. We’ll assess him at training and we are hopeful he will be ready for the weekend.’