Ndungane ahead of Hougaard?

Peter de Villiers made four changes to the Bok starting line-up and two more on the bench for their Pool D clash against Fiji in Wellington on Saturday.

Victor Matfield (hamstring), Butch James (hip flexor), Jean de Villiers (rib cartilage) and Bryan Habana (patella tendon) were all unavailable for selection due to injury.

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.

Gurthrö Steenkamp is 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 on the bench sees Juan de Jongh make a first appearance.

And the lock crisis has been compounded with flanker Francois Louw replacing injured lock Johann Muller, who failed a late fitness test on his hamstring injury, on the bench. Willem Alberts will now be the replacement lock.

South Africa v Fiji, 17 September 2011, 08h00, Wellington Regional Stadium

South Africa: 15 Pat Lambie 14 Odwa Ndungane 13 Jaque Fourie 12 Frans Steyn 11 JP Pietersen 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

Bench: 16 Bismarck du Plessis 17 Tendai Mtawarira 18 Francois Louw 19 Willem Alberts 20 Fancois Hougaard 21 Ruan Pienaar 22 Juan de Jongh

It’s great to see Lambie back in the mix, and given that Frans Steyn has openly called centre his favourite position, I can understand his move to inside centre, although I would have preferred to have seen the fleet footed De Jongh starting next to Fourie.

The selection of Ndungane ahead of Hougaard is mind blowingly ridiculous, and together with the Steyn move to centre (and sticking with the other Steyn instead of seeing what Lambie can do) speaks to the selectors trying not to lose matches rather than going out to win them. We know defense wins world cups, but this is taking that to a new level!

Not giving Bismarck a run in the starting XV, and allowing Spies yet another run at 8 speaks further to the overly conservative approach. In fact, it goes one ugly step further and begs the question as to whether the coach is too proud to admit he has made a mistake with Smit and Spies. It would be unbelievably sad if an ego were to get in the way of a World Cup defence.

How Botha has gone from his death bed to the starting XV is beyond me. The player says he will need more time than his team mates to get the engine going, but can definitely look them in the eye and tell them that he is 100% ready. I am not convinced, and this move smacks of desperation. I hope I am proved wrong.

And lastly, it is all good and well to give Steenkamp a run in the starting team, but the move to a 3/4 split on the bench means that Beast is the only prop gathering splinters. And given that neither he nor Steenkamp can play tighthead, the selectors must be relying on Smit to take over the number 3 jersey if Jannie goes down. Even against Fiji, that is messy. The reason they have CJ can der Linde in New Zealand is because he can play both sides … Put him on the bloody bench! I would also had Gio Aplon on the bench ahead of Pienaar, who has done nothing to excite in recent times …

Look, any Bok sides selected should be good enough to get past Fiji, but Sunday’s iffy performance against Wales, together with a few strange selections, is giving the country doubts. The Boks need to win convincingly on Saturday to erase those doubts …


  • The starting lineup has 675 combined caps
  • The oldest player is John Smit (33 Years)
  • The youngest player is Pat Lambie (20 Years)
  • The heaviest player is Gurthrö Steenkamp (122 kg)
  • The lightest player is Juan de Jongh (85 kg)
  • The tallest player is Bakkies Botha (2.02 m)
  • The shortest players are Pat Lambie and Juan de Jongh (1.77 m)
  • The average weight of the forwards is 116 kg
  • The average weight of the backs is 94 kg


  • John Smit will captain the Springboks for a World record 81st time. It will also be his 14th test in RWC tournaments and 9th as captain. John made his RWC debut in 2003 against Uruguay as a replacement hooker. In this match he will extend his Springbok record of most capped hooker to 93 caps.
  • Jaque Fourie holds the Springbok record for most career tries as a centre (26). With 7 tries in RWC tournaments he is only one try behind Brian Habana’s Springbok record for most tries in RWC tournaments.
  • Danie Rossouw made his RWC debut in 2003 and with four tries in RWC tournaments needs one try to equal Juan Smith’s record for most RWC career tries by a Springbok forward.
  • Schalk Burger is South Africa’s most capped flank forward with 62 tests and shares the Springbok try scoring record for a flank with Juan Smith with 11 tries each.
  • Pierre Spies is South Africa’s top try scorer in tests as a No 8 with 7 tries.
  • Gurthrö Steenkamp shares the Springbok try scoring record for a prop with Chris Koch and Os du Randt with 5 tries each.
  • Bismarck du Plessis shares the Springbok record for most test tries as a hooker with James Dalton and John Smit (5). Bismarck and his brother, Jannie will be playing together in their record 18th test should Bismarck appear.
  • Pat Lambie is the youngest player in the Springbok squad.
  • The following players will make their RWC debut: Pat Lambie and Odwa Ndungane and if used as a substitute, Juan de Jongh.

This will be South Africa’s 26th test match in RWC tournaments. Of the previous 25 tests, only three were lost. So far South Africa scored 96 tries in Rugby World Cup tournaments.

HEAD TO HEAD – Only two previous meetings
02/07/1996         South Africa won 43-18 in Pretoria.
07/10/2007         South Africa won 37-20 in Marseilles.

And the Fijian side to take on the Boks:

Kini Murimurivalu; Vereniki Goneva, Gaby Lovobalavu, Seremaia Bai, Naipolioni Nalaga; Waisea Sedre Luveniyali, Nemia Kenatale; Sakiusa Matadigo, Akapusi Qera, Dominiko Maiwiriwiri Waqaniburotu; Wame Lewaravu, Leone Nakarawa; Deacon Manu (captain), Sunia Koto, Campese Ma’afu

Bench: Telemaitoga Dautu Tuapati, Waisea Nailago, Netani Edward Talei, Sisa Koyamaibole, Vitori Tomu Buatava, Nicky Little, Gaby Lovobalavu.


5 Responses to “Ndungane ahead of Hougaard?”

  1. Bobby Says:

    Tank – Aplon really?? Against the big Fijian’s?
    I agree with your other comments tho 100% Bisy should start and I would go with beast starting ahead of Guthro and pull him totally and put CJ on the bench. The world knows JS is useless at prop.

    • frontrowgrunt Says:

      Thinking attack rather than defense … Aplon could weave some magic amongst those big Fijians … Pienaar has bored me to beers this year …

  2. webb ellis Says:

    Selecting Ruan Pienaar for such a “crunch” game as back-up on the bench is almost like sleeping with your own sister. I agree that Aplon should have been in the mix – better yet, in the starting XI @ 15. Pat Lambie should start at 10, partnering with Du Preez. I agree with Steyn at 12 though – after all this is his preferred position. Having a fleet footed versatile hard tackler like De Jongh on the bench is never a bad idea. He could make a huge impact, not only on tHe defensive line, but also with his ability to break that first line of defence.

    The Forward mix is a complete cocK up. Smit should not be there at all. Bismarck should start at 2 with Ralapele providing cover from the bench. I would have liked to see CJ & Beast partner up alongside Bismarck with Steenkamp at 17.
    The reason I believe why only Beast will provide cover from the bench as a back up prop is the fact that should Smit leave the field there will be diversity in the squad with regards to leadership – as proven in the match against Wales where several senior players looked insecure when it came to decision making. Had Matfield been available for selection, we would have seen two props on the bench.

    I would have liked to see Schalk start at 8 with Brussouw and Louw sharing the flanker roles – Alberts to gather splinters on the bench

    • frontrowgrunt Says:

      I think we are speaking the same language, but not sure I follow your logic re Beast though. How does that help cover tighthead if Jannie comes off?

  3. webb ellis Says:

    I forgot to mention Ndugane’s selection!!! Oh my word! Hougaard is the obvious choice with Ndgane providing cover from the bench.

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