Springboks make two changes
Rugby:South Africa have made two changes from the side that beat Ireland as they bid for revenge against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday. Two years ago the Springboks lost 21-17 to Andy Robinson’s side a week after a heavy loss to New Zealand and Heyneke Meyer is taking no chances this time around following the 16-12 win in Dublin and Scotland’s 51-22 loss to the All Blacks.
Toulouse loosehead Gurthro Steenkamp will start at prop in place of CJ van der Linde, who himself was a late replacement for Tendai Mtawarira. Mtawarira has returned home due to a heart condition. Juan de Jongh will start at outside centre in place of Jaco Taute, who, like Van der Linde has been included on the bench.
Meyer said: “Our focus has been on improving from our performance against Ireland last week. We saw the match between Scotland and New Zealand and that the Scots scored three tries against the All Blacks - which is more than any other team has managed against them this year.
“It was their first Test back since their season started and they will not be an easy opponent on Saturday, but we’ve also brushed off some cobwebs in Dublin and have had a good week on the training field. We lost on our last visit to Edinburgh and realise Saturday will be a massive battle, but it’s one we are looking forward to.”
On the team changes, former Leicester coach Meyer added: “It’s great to have Gurthro back. We wanted to select him last week, but unfortunately he was not 100 per cent fit. Gurthro is experienced, knows the conditions well and is looking forward to returning to the Green and Gold as he’s not played for South Africa for more than a year.
“Juan is in a similar position. Even though he’s played in a number of Tests for us this year, he’s not started for the ’Boks since last year’s away leg of the Castle Tri-Nations against New Zealand in Wellington. My plan has always been to give him a start on this tour, as he’s been playing very well lately, and I’m excited to see what he brings to the team on Saturday.”
Robinson has also made two changes to his starting XV, with tighthead prop Euan Murray returning after missing last Sunday’s defeat to the All Blacks for religious reasons. He replaces Geoff Cross in the starting XV.
The second change is enforced, with Ross Rennie (dislocated shoulder) replaced by David Denton. His inclusion at number eight means captain Kelly Brown will switch to openside flanker.
Murray, who is on loan at Agen from Newcastle and due to join Worcester shortly, last featured on the successful summer tour to Australia, Fiji and Samoa.
The 32-year-old impressed sufficiently to return at the expense of Cross, who scored his first Test try against the All Blacks.
Scotland head coach Andy Robinson said: “I was pleased with Euan’s contribution both at scrummage and in open play during the summer tour, while David Denton’s aggressive carrying is something that really gets the crowd going.”
Scotland must win the match, repeating the 21-17 victory over the Springboks of two years’ ago to have any hope of finishing the month in the world’s top eight and thus claiming a favourable seeding for next month’s World Cup draw.
“We know we’re in for a bruising battle against South Africa this weekend and we will be primed for that physical confrontation,” Robinson added. “But we also have to be smart in how we approach this game and do our utmost to ensure we get on the front foot and get the result that will move us into the top eight in the IRB world rankings ahead of next month’s 2015 Rugby World Cup draw.”
On the bench, hooker Dougie Hall, whose most recent cap was in the World Cup pool match against Argentina in Wellington last year, is preferred to Scott Lawson.
Cross drops to the bench in place of Allan Jacobsen, who is unavailable for personal reasons.
John Barclay returns to the matchday squad and his Glasgow Warriors team-mate Peter Murchie replaces Max Evans and could win his first cap.
Robinson added: “Dougie Hall has had a good season for Glasgow and I know that John Barclay has been one of our most consistent and reliable backrow forwards since he made his debut five years ago.
“Peter Murchie is another who has had a fine start to the season with Glasgow and his desire to dominate in aerial combat has been a factor in selection.”
Scotland:S Hogg (Glasgow Warriors); S Lamont (Glasgow Warriors), N De Luca (Edinburgh), M Scott (Edinburgh), T Visser (Edinburgh); G Laidlaw (Edinburgh), M Blair (Brive); R Grant (Glasgow Warriors), R Ford (Edinburgh), E Murray (Agen), R Gray (Sale Sharks), J Hamilton (Gloucester), A Strokosch (Perpignan), K Brown (Saracens, capt), D Denton (Edinburgh).
Replacements:D Hall (Glasgow Warriors), K Traynor (Bristol), G Cross (Edinburgh), A Kellock (Glasgow Warriors), J Barclay (Glasgow Warriors), H Pyrgos (Glasgow Warriors), R Jackson (Glasgow Warriors), P Murchie (Glasgow Warriors).
South Africa:Z Kirchner; JP Pietersen, J de Jongh, J de Villiers (captain), F Hougaard; P Lambie, R Pienaar; G Steenkamp, A Strauss, J du Plessis, E Etzebeth, J Kruger, F Louw, W Alberts, D Vermeulen.
Replacements:S Brits, H van der Merwe, CJ van der Linde, F van der Merwe, M Coetzee, M Steyn, J Taute, L Mvovo.