Jean de Villiers and Jaque Fourie are likely to resume their midfield partnership when the Springboks meet Wales this Saturday, reports JON CARDINELLI in Cardiff.
Bok coach Heyneke Meyer is set to make several changes to the starting side for this weekend's game at the Millennium Stadium. The 2007 World Cup-winner JP Pietersen is expected to play on the right wing, while another member of that World Cup-winning class, Fourie, could wear the No 13 jersey.
It will be the first time Pietersen has played for the Boks in 2013. Fourie is yet to play a Test under Meyer, and last represented the Boks in 2011. Both were unavailable for the recent Rugby Championship due to club commitments in Japan.
On Monday afternoon, Fourie ran alongside De Villiers in the centres during a training session in Cardiff. This midfield pair has produced some outstanding performances for South Africa in the past, and it's clear that Meyer wants to see if Fourie still complements De Villiers as well as he did before.
The return of Fourie and Pietersen gives the Bok backline a more experienced and physical look. The inclusion of Pietersen should also bring more balance to the back three, as Willie le Roux could shift to fullback.
Fourie du Preez will partner Morné Steyn as the halfbacks, as Meyer opts for some continuity in selection. The back-row combination of Francois Louw, Willem Alberts, and Duane Vermeulen is also expected to remain intact.
There will, however, be a couple of changes to the tight five. Flip van der Merwe will start at No 5, a position he played for the Boks when South Africa crushed Australia to end their losing streak in Brisbane.
With Jannie du Plessis unavailable because of injury and Meyer reluctant to start Coenie Oosthuizen at No 3, Frans Malherbe could start on his Test debut. The Stormers and Western Province tighthead prop is highly rated by Meyer and was part of the Bok coach's initial training squad in 2012 before picking up a serious injury.
While most of the overseas-based players joined the Bok squad on Monday morning, the team management has confirmed that Zane Kirchner and Bakkies Botha will link up with the group only on Tuesday.
The Bok match 23 will be announced on Wednesday.
Probable Boks for Wales – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Photo: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images
What we’ve learned
Five lessons from the past weekend's Currie Cup matches, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.
Tough times strengthened Toomua
Matt Toomua overcame several obstacles on his way to the top, writes ALEX BROUN.
Boks missing key men
The Springboks could struggle in Australasia without several key players, writes MARK KEOHANE in Business Day.