Fourie Du Preez will become the Springboks’ 56th Test captain when he leads South Africa out in a must-win encounter in Pool B of the Rugby World Cup against Scotland at St James’ Park in Newcastle on Saturday. Du Preez made a massive impact upon his return against Samoa last weekend and has been entrusted with the captaincy in the absence of the injured Jean De Villiers and Victor Matfield, who have both been ruled out due to injury. Schalk Burger is the vice-captain. Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer made only three changes to the starting line-up for Saturday’s match – two of them injury-enforced.
Jesse Kriel will link up again with Damian De Allende in the midfield, in the place of De Villiers, while Lood De Jager takes over from Matfield at lock. The third change is a rotational switch at hooker, where Bismarck Du Plessis returns in the place of Adriaan Strauss, who will move to the bench. New replacements are Pieter-Steph Du Toit, Willem Alberts and Jan Serfontein, who provides cover as both centres picked up injuries last week.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer says that losing two experienced captains in one week had been a severe blow but that the squad included a number of highly capable deputies: ‘Fourie has been one of the best scrumhalves in world rugby for a long time, but he also understands the game better than most players and is a tactical genius. He will know exactly what is needed on Saturday when we continue our fight to keep our World Cup dream alive. Schalk stood in on the last occasion that Jean and Victor were both absent earlier this season before Fourie had returned to fitness. They are both great leaders who go about their work in contrasting ways and I think they will work extremely well in tandem. They are hugely experienced and they know what it will take to win this very important match against a great Scottish side.’
Meyer says his team would have to build on their victory over Samoa on Saturday in order to stay in the hunt for a play-off spot at the Rugby World Cup: ‘The performance against Samoa was much better, but Scotland have been impressive in their victories over Japan and the USA. We know in which areas we have to improve and we will have to fire at 100% on Saturday against a motivated Scotland side. The injuries have not been ideal, but we can’t do anything about that and the players selected will have to perform once again this weekend.’ Matfield was the only player not considered this week due to injury.
The Springbok team to face Scotland in Newcastle is:
Franchise / Club
Willie Le Roux
Damian De Allende
Fourie Du Preez (captain)
Schalk Burger (vice-captain)
Lood De Jager
Jannie Du Plessis
Bismarck Du Plessis
Pieter-Steph Du Toit