Bakkies back from the dead …

The Springboks have made four changes to the starting line-up and two more on the bench for their Pool D clash against Fiji in Wellington on Saturday. Four of the six changes have been forced by injury.

Lock Victor Matfield (hamstring) and backs Butch James (hip flexor), Jean de Villiers (rib cartilage) and Bryan Habana (patella tendon) were all unavailable for selection due to injury. A fifth player, Johann Muller, will undergo a late fitness test on a tight hamstring. If he is unavailable he will be replaced on the bench by Francois Louw.

Matfield’s place is taken by the returning Bakkies Botha; Odwa Ndungane steps into the left wing berth in place of Habana; Pat Lambie starts at fullback with Francois Steyn moving forward to fill De Villiers’ inside centre berth and James’ place on the bench is taken by the versatile Ruan Pienaar who has appeared at scrumhalf, flyhalf and fullback for the Springboks.

In addition, Springbok coach Peter de Villiers made two tactical changes. Gurthrö Steenkamp was promoted to start at loosehead prop in place of Tendai Mtawarira (who drops to the bench) while the return to a conventional four/three split between forwards and backs among the replacements opens the way for Juan de Jongh to make a first appearance on a Rugby World Cup teamsheet.

De Villiers said Willem Alberts would act as a replacement lock if Muller failed to recover sufficiently.

“We have had injury problems at lock but we have versatile players to cover for most situations,” said De Villiers. “Danie Rossouw has now been picked to start at 4, 5, 7 and 8 this season and will call the lineouts this weekend.

“Willem Alberts is on the bench to cover four of the back five positions in the pack and we have a couple of scrumhalves on the bench who cover three other positions as well, so we are fortunate.

“Against a tough proposition like Fiji you’d prefer to have all your players available but this is tournament rugby and we picked our squad knowing that we would have to cover for many situations.”

The Springboks have played Fiji twice before, winning both games. In 1996 they recorded a 43-18 win in Pretoria before recording a momentarily tense, 37-20 victory over Fiji in the quarterfinals of the 2007 tournament.

Saturday’s match kicks off at 18h00 (08h00 SA time).

South Africa v Fiji, 17 September 2011, Wellington Regional Stadium, Wellington

South Africa: 15 Pat Lambie 14 JP Pietersen 13 Jaque Fourie 12 Frans Steyn 11 Odwa Ndungane 10 Morne Steyn 9 Fourie du Preez 8 Pierre Spies 7 Schalk Burger 6 Heinrich Brussow 5 Danie Rossouw 4 Bakkies Botha 3 Jannie du Plessis 2 John Smit (captain) 1 Gurthro Steenkamp

Substitutes: 16 Bismarck du Plessis 17 Tendai Mtawarira 18 Johann Muller 19 Willem Alberts 20 Fancois Hougaard 21 Ruan Pienaar 22 Juan de Jongh

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