Du Plessis returns to South Africa side to face All Blacks

Rugby Championship on the line at Ellis Park this weekend

Bismarck Du Plessis of South Africa tackles Dan Carter of the All Blacks at Eden Park on September 14th. Du Plessis received a yellow card for the tackle. Photograph: Sandra Mu/Getty Images

Bismarck Du Plessis of South Africa tackles Dan Carter of the All Blacks at Eden Park on September 14th. Du Plessis received a yellow card for the tackle. Photograph: Sandra Mu/Getty Images

Wed, Oct 2, 2013, 12:54

Bismarck du Plessis, the central character in last month’s controversial test between New Zealand and South Africa, was restored to the Springbok side for Saturday’s re-match in Johannesburg.

The hooker was one of two changes announced on Wednesday to the starting line-up for the Rugby Championship decider at Ellis Park where South Africa must score four tries and win by more than seven points to snatch the title from the world champion All Blacks.

Juandre Kruger replaced injured lock Flip van der Merwe and a third change is possible if centre JJ Engelbrecht does not recover from injury in time.

If he does not, Jan Serfontein will get his first start for the Springboks.

Du Plessis was benched for last Saturday’s 28-8 win over Australia in Cape Town in what coach Heyenke Meyer said was a pre-arranged move.

Two weeks before that Du Plessis was sent off against the All Blacks in Auckland after earning a second yellow card, although there was widespread condemnation of the first caution from French referee Romain Poite for a tackle on flyhalf Dan Carter for which the hooker was later exonerated.

South Africa lost 29-15 but felt they might have made a better contest of it had they not been reduced to 14 men early in the second half.

Englebrecht is struggling with a quad muscle injury but will be given time to prove his fitness, Meyer said in a statement.

“But if he can’t make it, Jan (Serfontein) will start with Juan (de Jongh) on the bench.”

Kruger’s elevation back to the startling-line up in the second row opens up a place on the bench for uncapped Franco van der Merwe, likely to get a debut run as a replacement on his home ground.

“Franco’s attitude since day one has been fantastic, he’s waited patiently and always stayed positive, which is what we as a team stand for,” the coach added.

South Africa: Zane Kirchner; Willie le Roux, JJ Engelbrecht / Jan Serfontein, Jean de Villiers (captain), Bryan Habana; Morne Steyn, Fourie du Preez; Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis; Eben Etzebeth, Juandre Kruger; Francois Louw, Willem Alberts, Duane Vermeulen.Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Gurthro Steenkamp, Coenie Oosthuizen, Franco van der Merwe, Siya Kolisi, Ruan Pienaar, Pat Lambie, Jan Serfontein / Juan de Jongh.

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