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Thu Apr 24 01:46:09 SAST 2014

Frans glad to be in the mix

CRAIG RAY | 16 August, 2012 07:240 Comments
Frans Steyn will earn his 50th cap on Saturday when the Springboks take on Argentina in the opening match of the new Four Nations tournament

AT ONLY 25 years old, Frans Steyn has achieved a great deal in rugby, and on Saturday he will add another accolade by earning his 50th test cap in the Springboks' opening match of the new Four Nations tournament against Argentina at Newlands.

Steyn won a World Cup at only 20 in 2007 and a Tri-Nations at 22 in 2009, but at one stage it looked like he would turn his back on the Boks in favour of a career in France.

Now he is one of five changes to the Bok team from the side that drew 14-all against England in June, and is set on enjoying life as a Springbok again after a strained relationship with former coach Peter de Villiers.

"I'm glad that I can be here again because when I went to France I started re-evaluating my future with the Springboks," Steyn said.

"My goals have changed since last year because I was close to continuing my stay in France. But things changed in South Africa. I got an offer from the Sharks and I have another chance back home.

"Heyneke [Meyer] is a good and honest communicator and if you make a mistake, you know about it. The biggest thing at the Boks now is that there is honesty and everybody respects each other."

The Boks have named the uncapped duo of prop Pat Cilliers and centre-wing JJ Engelbrecht among the reserves, while Keegan Daniel will make his first test start - playing No8 after Pierre Spies was ruled out of the tournament with a fractured finger on Tuesday.

Lock Andries Bekker makes his return to test rugby for the first time in two years following a spate of injuries, and will partner Eben Etzebeth in the second row.

Bryan Habana will play on the right wing in the absence of the injured JP Pietersen, with Lwazi Mvovo earning his first start since last year's Tri-Nations, on the left wing.

It's the first time in 78 test appearances that Habana will wear the No14 jersey, having played 76 matches on the left wing and one at centre.

The other changes see Willem Alberts return to flank, with Jacques Potgieter dropping to the bench, and Zane Kirchner donning the fullback jersey in place of Gio Aplon.

Daniel's inclusion is not surprising considering Spies's misfortune, but it's hardly the situation Meyer would have envisaged when he took the job in early February.

At that stage, Schalk Burger and Duane Vermeulen were still in the frame for the No8 berth in addition to Spies. But injuries and Daniel's good form have earned him a chance.

"Keegan has been playing really well in Super rugby and he has put up his hand," Meyer said.

"It is a setback losing someone of Pierre's experience but I think that Keegan is the logical choice to replace Pierre.

"What you lose in physicality with Keegan, you gain with the X factor."

TEAM: Zane Kirchner, Lwazi Mvovo, Jean de Villiers (captain), Frans Steyn, Bryan Habana, Morne Steyn, Francois Hougaard, Keegan Daniel, Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Andries Bekker, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira.

Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Pat Cilliers, Flip van der Merwe, Jacques Potgieter, Ruan Pienaar, Pat Lambie, JJ Engelbrecht.

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Frans glad to be in the mix

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Thu Apr 24 01:46:10 SAST 2014 ::