Strauss starts for Boks

Adriaan Strauss will start at hooker in one of eight changes to the Springbok team facing Samoa at Villa Park on Saturday.

Bismarck du Plessis falls out of the match-day squad, with Schalk Brits set to play off the bench. Duane Vermeulen and Fourie du Preez will start their first Tests of the year.

Strauss is set to earn his 50th cap for the Boks and coach Heyneke Meyer said he was deserving of selection for this match.

'Adriaan is not only a great ambassador for South Africa and the Springboks, but also someone who isn’t shy to put in the dirty work without saying too much. He leads by example and has shown a lot of resilience in coming through trying times. It's not about individuals now, or about egos. Don't read to much into Bismarck not starting. He'll play again.'

Meyer said it was great to have Vermeulen back in the mix.

'He is one of the best loose forwards in the world and apart from being a superb ball-carrier and also a great lineout option, he is good on the ground and brings leadership to the team.'

Jean de Villiers retains the captaincy and his place in the run-on XV, but shifts to outside centre in place of Jesse Kriel, who moves to the bench.

'I back Jean, I would rather go into the fight with him,' Meyer said. 'He's a fighter. It's a tough choice, but the right choice.'

In an almost completely new-look backline, Damian de Allende will start at inside centre, JP Pietersen returns on the wing in place of Lwazi Mvovo, while Willie le Roux replaces Zane Kirchner at fullback.

At halfback, Du Preez and Handré Pollard take over from Ruan Pienaar and Pat Lambie respectively. Du Preez came off the bench in the loss to Japan last Saturday, but has not started a Test for the Boks since June 2014.

Among the forwards, Vermeulen makes his long-awaited return after missing all of the international action this year due to a neck injury, with Schalk Burger shifting to blindside flank. Willem Alberts remains unavailable as the result of a calf injury.

The only change in the tight five sees Eben Etzebeth start at No 4 in place of Lood de Jager, who drops to the bench despite an impressive performance against Japan.

'We decided to also give Willie, Damian, Frans and Schalk Brits, who was impressive in the second half against Argentina in Buenos Aires last month, a well-deserved run this week to bring some energy and unpredictability to the team,' Meyer explained. 'Jesse Kriel and Lood de Jager have proven themselves this season and we will need them to also make a massive impact off the bench on Saturday.

'It means some players have dropped out of the squad altogether but this is a 31-man campaign and they will have other chances. We needed to make changes after Saturday’s performance.'

Springboks – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jean de Villiers (c), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handré 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 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jesse Kriel.

Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images

Post by

Craig Lewis