Nick Mallett has selected two specialist No 5s with the aim of combating the Victor Matfield-inspired Springbok set piece. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The World XV will be led by Matt Giteau, who has been selected at No 10. However, the most notable selections are in the pack, as Mallett has picked three bruisers in the back row and two lineout experts in the second.
Juandré Kruger and Alistair Hargreaves manage the lineout for Racing Métro and Saracens respectively. They are two of five South African players who have been named in the World XV starting line-up.
‘There are some exciting players in this backline, but you’ve got to win your lineout ball if you’re going to give them an opportunity,’ said Mallett. ‘I’m confident that we’ll do well at the scrum, but with Victor Matfield back for the Boks, we have to ensure we are competitive at the lineout.
‘The Boks have a very powerful lineout drive, so we also need to stop that. In general, we will need to stop them from going forward. Neither Juandré nor Alistair is in the mould of a Bakkies Botha, but they do get around the park and more importantly they will put pressure on the Bok lineout.’
Mallett went on to highlight the physicality of the starting back row. The World XV coach hopes that Mamuka Gorgodze, Steffon Armitage, and Roger Wilson will make a dent in the Bok defence. Joe Tekori will also play a role when he comes off the bench in the second half.
Giteau feels that the composite side is ready for what should be a physical challenge. He is adamant that the Toulon players in this side won’t be wanting for motivation, even though they recently won the European Cup and Top 14 double and arrived in South Africa just three days before the battle with the Boks.
‘We don’t want to let ourselves down as professionals, and we also want the bragging rights,’ said the World XV skipper. ‘I’m sure Bryan Habana and Bakkies Botha [who play with Giteau and others at Toulon] won’t be holding anything back. It makes you more competitive to play against your mates, and then as for the rest of the side, there are number of them who will want to prove a point on the big stage.’
Kruger and Hargreaves are two who will want to make an impression. Wynand Olivier, Rory Kockott, Craig Burden, Schalk Ferreira, and Pat Cilliers are the other South Africans who will want to catch Heyneke Meyer’s attention.
‘We haven’t had much time to prepare, but we have looked at putting in a bit of structure,’ said Mallett, ‘If we can get the set pieces right, we have some great ball runners who excel in space. It should be a physical game, but it should also be an entertaining one.’
World XV – 15 James O'Connor, 14 Drew Mitchell, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Matt Giteau (c), 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Mamuka Gorgodze, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Juandré Kruger, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Sona Taumalolo.
Subs: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Joe Tekori, 20 Alexandre Lapandry, 21 Jimmy Cowan, 22 Francois Trinh-Duc, 23 Benson Stanley.
Photo: John Berry/Getty Images