Duane Vermeulen Given Time As Bismarck Du Plessis Starts

Springbok eighthman Duane Vermeulen will be given as much time as possible to recover from injury while Bismarck Du Plessis will start Saturday’s final round Castle Lager Rugby Championship Test against New Zealand at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.  This match will be Springbok captain Jean De Villiers’ 50th appearance in the competition, the most by any South African.  Vermeulen is recovering from a rib cartilage injury and if he doesn’t recover in time to face New Zealand, Schalk Burger will start in the number 8 jersey with Warren Whiteley coming onto the bench.

If Vermeulen is cleared to play, the inclusion of Du Plessis at hooker will be the only change to the team that beat Australia by 28-10 in Cape Town last weekend.  “It’s been good to build some form of continuity and we’ll give Duane as much time as possible before making a final call.  He’s been one of our best players in the last couple of weeks and is responding well to medical treatment, but if he can’t make it, we can fall back on the experience of Schalk to start at No 8 with Warren coming onto the bench.  Schalk’s impact last weekend was massive, but so was the rest of the bench and we’ll be looking for more of the same on Saturday.  At hooker, we’ve decided to rotate Bismarck with Adriaan Strauss, both of whom must rate amongst the best hookers in the world at the moment,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.  Meyer said that the Springboks will need to be at their best, defend strongly and execute their attacking plays as well as possible on Saturday if they are going to be victorious against New Zealand.

Over the last three years since the last Rugby World Cup, the All Blacks have established themselves as one of the best Test teams of all time, losing only once and drawing once during this time.  “We’re well aware of the massive task that awaits us.  There are areas of the game we know we have to improve on against New Zealand.  We’d like to go out there and enjoy the occasion and carry on where we left off against Australia.  Hopefully we can get quick ball, like we did towards the end of the Test in Cape Town,” said Meyer.  Lwazi Mvovo has been released to play in the Absa Currie Cup for the Sharks this weekend.

The Springbok team to face New Zealand in Johannesburg is:

Position

Name

Test Caps

Test points

15

Willie le Roux

20

35

14

Cornal Hendricks

8

25

13

Jan Serfontein

15

5

12

Jean de Villiers (captain)

101

135

11

Bryan Habana

102

280

10

Handré Pollard

5

37

9

Francois Hougaard

31

20

8

Duane Vermeulen / Schalk Burger

24 / 72

10 / 65

7

Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje

2

0

6

Marcell Coetzee

21

25

5

Victor Matfield (vice-captain)

116

35

4

Eben Etzebeth

28

0

3

Jannie du Plessis

59

5

2

Bismarck du Plessis

65

45

1

Tendai Mtawarira

60

10

Replacements:

16

Adriaan Strauss

39

25

17

Trevor Nyakane

8

5

18

Marcel van der Merwe

4

0

19

Bakkies Botha

82

35

20

Schalk Burger / Warren Whiteley

72 / 2

65 / 0

21

Cobus Reinach

1

0

22

Pat Lambie

35

78

23

JP Pietersen

55

85