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Thu Apr 24 03:17:50 SAST 2014

Daniel to make first start for Boks

Reuters | 15 August, 2012 13:050 Comments
2012 The Castle Rugby Championship: Springboks training session
Keegan Daniel watches a Springbok training session on the sidelines at Westerford High School on August 13, 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa
Image by: Ashley Vlotman / Gallo Images

Keegan Daniel has been included in the Springboks’ starting lineup at number eight to face Argentina at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.

The Test opens the new Rugby Championship series, and will also mark the 50th Test appearance for centre Francois Steyn. Daniel’s inclusion was one of five changes to the Bok side which last played against England at the end of June.

Daniel comes in for the injured Pierre Spies, and coach Heyneke Meyer said the young player would provide the team with “that X-factor”.

“Pierre is one of the senior players and when you lose an experienced player like him it’s a big setback,” Meyer said at the team announcement in Cape Town on Wednesday.

“But I’m glad for Keegan because it’s a big opportunity for him and I’d like to see him taking it with both hands.

“It is a step up for Keegan, but he has really been playing well. I am really looking forward to seeing what he can do at this level.

“It will be a hard, physical game on Saturday and we are looking to Keegan to bring that X-factor that can make a difference.

“He’s got to run from the back, as the number eight covers from the back, so it’s going to be a big challenge. He was good against a physical team like the Chiefs and also against the top defensive team, the Stormers.”  Spies’ absence brings to six the number Bok loose forwards on the injury list, and Meyer said he had to carefully ponder the selection options for Saturday’s showdown.

“I did consider moving Willem Alberts to number eight so that Jacques Potgieter could come in on the blindside flank. Such a move would have given us more ball carriers.

“But Marcell Coetzee is not a specialist openside flanker and he carries the ball a lot, so I think we are covered when it comes to big ball carriers.” 

Meyer also had to make a brave call at lock. That resulted in dropping the capable Juandre Kruger, who ran the Bok line-outs against England. Andries Bekker will take over that role on Saturday.

“I had a difficult decision at lock and dropping Juandre wasn’t easy,” said Meyer.

“He is a good player and he did not let us down against England, so he is a bit unlucky. However, Andries is an extremely talented player and this game is at his home ground — Newlands — so that swayed it.

“I went with Flip van der Merwe as the cover on the bench because he’s been outstanding when he’s come [on] as a replacement in the Bulls’ matches. Also if something happened to Andries, Flip is very capable of making the line-out calls.

“There has always been a question-mark over (the fitness of) Eben (Etzebeth) and I would have opted for a 5-2 split on the bench, but with JP (Pietersen) out I could not do so.” 

Two of the reserves, prop Pat Cilliers and Bulls three-quarter JJ Engelbrecht, are the new caps in the squad. Meyer said he kept an eye on their progress and felt the time was right to blood them at international level.

“It has been a while in coming, but they have both earned their places with good performances,” said Meyer.

“Pat hasn’t been playing a lot of rugby, but I am looking forward to seeing what he can do against a great pack like the Pumas have.

“We can never have enough experience and players can only gain experience by playing.”  

South Africa: 15-Zane Kirchner, 14-Lwazi Mvovo, 13-Jean de Villiers (captain), 12-Frans Steyn, 11-Bryan Habana, 10-Morne Steyn, 9-Francois Hougaard, 8-Keegan Daniel, 7-Willem Alberts, 6-Marcell Coetzee, 5-Andries Bekker, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Jannie du Plessis, 2-Bismarck du Plessis, 1-Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16-Adriaan Strauss, 17-Pat Cilliers, 18-Flip van der Merwe, 19-Jacques Potgieter, 20-Ruan Pienaar, 21-Pat Lambie, 22-JJ Engelbrecht.

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