Allister Coetzee has confirmed that another experienced flyhalf will join the Springbok squad in the lead-up to the second Test against Ireland, reports JON CARDINELLI in Johannesburg.
The Boks look set to make a key change. Pat Lambie has been ruled out of the next match against Ireland due to a concussion, and will be replaced by Elton Jantjies at No 10. Coetzee could spring a surprise, however, with the selection of a veteran flyhalf on the bench.
It’s believed that Morné Steyn, who wasn’t part of the original 31-man squad, could join the side in Johannesburg over the next day or so. Steyn, an accomplished goal- and tactical kicker, is expected to leapfrog the third flyhalf in the squad, Garth April.
Evidently Coetzee isn’t willing to back April, who only made his Super Rugby debut earlier this year, in a Test that could potentially decide the series. April didn’t exactly make a case for his elevation with a poor performance for SA A against the England Saxons last Friday.
On Monday, Coetzee confirmed that he had been in touch with two flyhalves outside the squad. He refused to confirm the names of those players, stating that the chosen player’s identity would be revealed at a later stage.
‘Right now it’s about availability, it’s a contract issue. Once we have sorted that out we will know who is coming into the squad,’ the Bok coach said. ‘We are looking for a player who can play a balanced game.’
In the lead-up to the squad naming in late May, Steyn (Stade Français) and Johan Goosen (Racing 92) were listed among the possible inclusions. When Coetzee announced his squad and named Lambie, Jantjies and April as his flyhalf options, he admitted that geographical location had influenced the decision. Coetzee wasn’t willing to pick a third-choice flyhalf based abroad.
But the loss to Ireland at Newlands and the injury to Lambie has forced Coetzee to backtrack. An overseas-based player will cover for Jantjies at Ellis Park this Saturday.
Other than that, Coetzee said he was reluctant to make too many changes.
‘I’ve got a good idea of what my team will look like. For me, it’s about picking the best XV so that we can win the Test match.
‘I suppose it is a case of being caught between a rock and a hard place,’ he said when asked if the players who disappointed in Cape Town deserve another chance in Johannesburg. ‘You can’t make too many changes, because then it looks like we’re panicking. I want to back the guys and give them another chance.’
Coetzee said that two Bok players are currently nursing minor niggles. No 8 Duane Vermeulen (knee) and lock Lood de Jager (calf) will not train on Monday afternoon.
Coetzee said that the decision to rest Vermeulen and De Jager is precautionary, and that both should be available for selection this week.
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