Jon Cardinelli

Kirchner in last line for Boks

Zane Kirchner is set to start at fullback for the Springboks Zane Kirchner is set to start at fullback for the Springboks

Zane Kirchner, Flip van der Merwe and Bismarck du Plessis are all expected to start against the Wallabies on Saturday, reports JON CARDINELLI in Brisbane.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said on Monday that there would be several changes to the starting team and suggested that Du Plessis would replace Adriaan Strauss at hooker. And sure enough, Du Plessis ran with the likely starting side at Tuesday afternoon's training session at the Anglican Church Grammar School.

The big surprise was to see Kirchner running at fullback. Kirchner has not played for the Boks since the Test against England at Twickenham last November, missing the June Tests due to injury, but it's now likely that he will line up at No 15 against the Wallabies at the Suncorp Stadium.

Willie le Roux will shift to the wing, with Bjorn Basson dropping to the bench.

The back-three reshuffle indicates that Meyer values Kirchner's kicking game, and that he considers Kirchner one of the two best fullbacks in the squad at this point. Pat Lambie alternated with Morné Steyn throughout Tuesday's session, and it would appear that Meyer still views the Sharks playmaker as a strong flyhalf option.

Apart from the pending selection of Du Plessis, Meyer is set to make at least one other change to his tight five. Van der Merwe trained in the second row on Tuesday and is likely to replace Juandré Kruger for reasons of rotation.

Eben Etzebeth is battling a stomach bug and sat out the training session. According to the team management, there is a serious concern that he will be unavailable for the weekend's game.

If Etzebeth does not recover in time for the match, then Kruger will retain his place in the starting line-up.

The Bok match 23 will be confirmed on Wednesday.

Probable Bok XV – 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images

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