26 June 2014
Fresh from winning the IRB Junior Player of the Year award, Junior Springbok captain Handre Pollard has been named to start at flyhalf for the Springboks in their one-off test against Scotland in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Pollard is one of five uncapped players who have been named in the 23-man Springboks squad for the final encounter of the Castle Lager Incoming Series.
With seven players based in France and England unavailable for selection, there are six changes to the Springboks’ run-on team, which edged Wales 31-30 in Nelspruit last weekend.
Lwazi Mvovo starts on the left wing, while there are four changes in the pack, with Marcell Coetzee and Schalk Burger starting on the flanks, Lood de Jager partnering captain Victor Matfield in the second row, and Coenie Oosthuizen taking over at loosehead prop for Tendai Mtawarira.
The addition of Oosthuizen, who joins Jannie and Bismarck du Plessis in the front row, makes it an all-Grey College combination.
Mtawarira, Flip van der Merwe, Willem Alberts and Johan Goosen were not considered for selection because of injuries.
There is also a new-look bench, which includes uncapped players Marcel van der Merwe (prop), Stephan Lewies (lock), Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje (loose forward) and Marnitz Boshoff (flyhalf). They will sit alongside Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane, Francois Hougaard and Zane Kirchner, none of whom have played any test rugby this season.
‘A few hard decisions’
“We had to make a number of changes to the team and while team selection is never easy, especially this week when we had to make a few hard decisions, it’s been great to see the excitement under the players for this final test of the series,” Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said at the announcement of the team in Port Elizabeth.
“Our plans had always been to try a few new combinations this week against Scotland and I’m looking forward to see the guys grab their opportunities.”
Meyer said Pollard had always been part of his plans for the Castle Lager Incoming Series, but that his selection as South Africa under-20 captain meant he could only join the squad this week.
‘A big opportunity’
“Handre is a very talented player and has a big opportunity this week, but he’ll have Fourie du Preez’s experience next to him, while he’s played a lot with Jan Serfontein before. It’s great to have the current and a former World Junior Player of the Year in the same backline.
“The other new faces in the starting line-up have been part of our squad for some time and they all deserve a run.”
‘Energy and enthusiasm’
On the composition of the bench, Meyer commented: “Adriaan, Trevor, Francois and Zane know what it’s about, while the other guys will bring energy and enthusiasm with them.
“All of them deserve this chance. ‘Oupa’ still played Varsity and Vodacom Cup rugby earlier this season before he got an opportunity to play Vodacom Super Rugby for the Cheetahs because of injuries. He took his chance and now he’s on the cusp of making his test debut,” he said.
“Marnitz and Marcel have shone for their franchises this year and patiently waited in the last couple of weeks, always working hard and putting in everything at our training sessions. Stephan only joined us on Monday, but he made an impression already at our training camp in Durban last month and slotted in without any problems this week.
“Marcel, Stephan, ‘Oupa’ and Marnitz all made their Vodacom Super Rugby debuts earlier this year following injuries to other players and it’s great to see so many younger players come through the ranks.”
Three successive wins
Scotland is coming off three successive wins, having beaten the USA, Canada and Argentina in the last three weeks while on tour.
“They are always a tough opponent, like we saw last year in Nelspruit, but our aim is to build on the two victories over Wales in the last fortnight,” said Meyer.
In their three matches so far this season, the Springboks have beaten the World XV 47-13, followed by 38-16 and 31-30 wins over Wales.
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, JP Pietersen, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Coenie Oosthuizen
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Stephan Lewies, 20 Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Marnitz Boshoff, 23 Zane Kirchner