Several changes likely in Bok side to face Samoa
FLYHALF Handre Pollard is ready to test Samoa on the gainline in this weekend’s crucial second round Rugby World Cup match for the Springboks. After last Saturday’s shock 34-32 loss to Japan, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is set to make changes with Pollard taking over from Pat Lambie and Morne Steyn coming back into the squad on the bench.
Scrumhalf Fourie du Preez is also set to start, and Rudy Paige is poised for a first cap from the bench. Du Preez will combine with Pollard for only the second time after the duo started together against Scotland in June.Paige and Pollard have played regularly together at Super Rugby level for the Bulls.
Pollard’s physical presence and ability to hold defences up by playing close to the opposition could be important against a team as physical as Samoa.
“I don’t have experience of playing them at this level, although I did play against Samoa at the Junior World Cup, so I will have to do my homework,” Pollard said.
“But I will take the ball to the gainline even more, and confront them. I won’t stand back because they are a physical side. We have to go through them first before we can go around them, so we have to be more direct than before.
“We have to have composure, which is something we’ve been struggling with. But we keep working at it and it will click one of these days,” he said.
Captain Jean de Villiers, who is understood to be playing for his place, will be shifted to outside centre with Damian de Allende taking over the No 12 jersey and Jesse Kriel dropping to the bench.
JP Pietersen will start on the wing instead of Lwazi Mvovo and Willie le Roux will return to fullback in place of Zane Kirchner.
Up front, No 8 Duane Vermeulen will make his much-anticipated return after neck surgery, with Schalk Burger moving to the flank and Pieter-Steph du Toit falling out altogether.
Lock Eben Etzebeth will swap places with Lood de Jager while the front row remains the same.
It is a team picked with physicality in mind, but also tactical awareness. Du Preez at scrumhalf will add much-needed direction.
Wing Bryan Habana, who is five tries short of the World Cup record of 15 held by All Black Jonah Lomu, warned against writing the Boks off.
“The confidence in this squad has never subsided and we still have belief that we can go on and do something special,” Habana said.
Probable Bok team: 15-Willie le Roux, 14-JP Pietersen, 13-Jean de Villiers (capt), 12-Damian de Allende, 11-Bryan Habana, 10-Handre Pollard, 9-Fourie du Preez, 8-Duane Vermeulen, 7-Schalk Burger, 6-Francois Louw, 5-Victor Matfield, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Jannie du Plessis, 2-Bismark du Plessis, 1-Tendai Mtawarira. Reserves: 16-Adriaan Strauss, 17-Trevor Nyakane, 18-Frans Malherbe, 19-Lood de Jager, 20-Siya Kolisi, 21-Rudy Paige, 22-Morne Steyn, 23-Jesse Kriel