Du Preez on bench as South Africa make four changes
Ulster’s Ruan Pienaar is named in the South Africa team to face Argentina in Soweto. Photograph: Jan Kruger/Getty Images
World Cup winner Fourie du Preez was named on the bench for South Africa yesterday as he prepares to end a two-year spell out of the international game in this weekend’s Rugby Championship match against Argentina in Soweto.
The scrumhalf was one of four changes to the squad that beat Samoa in the final of the four nations tournament in June.Japan-based Du Preez has not played for the Springboks since 2011 but has been drafted back into the set-up by coach Heyneke Meyer as he begins preparations for the 2015 World Cup in England.
Meyer resisted the urge to start the 31-year-old for Saturday’s match, opting for Ulster scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar instead. Two changes are in the starting XV with Duane Vermeulen taking over at number eight from the injured Pierre Spies and lock Juandre Kruger starting next to Eben Etzebeth in the middle row in place of Flip van der Merwe who moves to the bench. Experienced Toulouse prop Gurthro Steenkamp also comes in to the bench .
“Continuity has been key for us this year and that is why we’ve opted not to make too many changes to the team for Saturday’s test against Argentina,” Meyer said.
Meyer believes Argentina will have learnt from their maiden Rugby Championship appearance last season and called for complete focus from his side.He also hinted his side would continue their more expansive game-plan that they have adopted this season that proved such a success in the June tournament.
“We’ve now done the hard work on the training pitch and I can see the players are keen to get back on to the field for a test,” he said.
“Now we need to put into practice what we’ve been working on and continue where we left off against Samoa, looking for try-scoring opportunities in the process.”
Meanwhile the South African Rugby Union (SARU) will introduce a racial quota system in its domestic competition next year to encourage more black players to emerge through the ranks.
Starting next year, teams participating in the Vodacom Cup will have to field seven black players in their 22-man squad, five of whom must be fielded among the starters and two of whom must be forwards.
“This decision to introduce measurable targets underlines SARU‘s commitment to transformation,“ SARU president Oregan Hoskins said.
The Vodacom Cup is a domestic competition featuring the country‘s 14 provincial unions and takes place in the first half of the year, at the same time as the Super Rugby competition.
Racial quotas in South African sporting codes previously dominated by minority whites since the fall of apartheid have become less contentious in recent years but have previously made for heated debate.
There has never been an official quota system in South African rugby, although it has been commonly accepted that Springbok squads would have at least three black players. The 30-man Springbok squad for their first two matches of the Rugby Championship features nine black players.
SOUTH AFRICA (v Argentina): W le Roux; B Basson, JJ Engelbrecht, J de Villiers, B Habana; M Steyn, R Pienaar; T Mtawarira, A Strauss, J du Plessis; E Etzebeth, J Kruger; F Louw, W Alberts, D Vermeulen. Replacements: B du Plessis, G Steenkamp, C Oosthuizen, F van der Merwe, S Kolisi, F du Preez, P Lambie, J Serfontein.