Boks need Daniel's flair

Wed, 15 Aug 2012 14:26
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Pierre Spies' injury has handed Keegan Daniel a chance to show that there is room for 'x-factor' at the back of the Springbok scrum.

Pierre Spies' injury has handed Keegan Daniel a chance to show that there is room for 'x-factor' at the back of the Springbok scrum.

With Spies, Ryan Kankowski and Duane Vermeulen all unavailable for selection Bok coach Heyneke Meyer opted to give the dynamic Sharks captain the opportunity to start at No.8 against Argentina at Newlands on Saturday, but he made it clear that Daniel will have to prove that he can make the step up to Test level if he is to keep his spot.

The energetic Daniel does not exactly fit the mould of the physically intimidating loose forwards that Meyer tends to favour, but his form in Super Rugby this season was simply impossible to ignore and the fact that he has played with the other five Sharks in the starting forward pack all season persuaded Meyer to give him his first starting cap.

The Bok coach explained: "The Sharks pack has done well in Super Rugby, and with the whole front row being Sharks as well as two of the loose forwards I thought we would keep some continuity there.

"I was also looking at Jacques Potgieter on the blindside flank and Willem [Alberts] at eight because I want two ball carriers, but I think Keegan [Daniel] has been playing well in Super Rugby, he knows the rest of the pack and he has been putting up his hand so although it is a big setback experience-wise losing Pierre [Spies] I think Keegan is the logical choice," he said.

Whilst Daniel is not the most physically imposing No.8 around he does bring some creativity to the position, and it will be interesting to see how he fares in what is expected to be a tough slog up front.

Meyer said that although Daniel will be under pressure to deal with the intense physicality, he is confident that he can make an impact by bringing an extra dimension to the Bok loose trio.

"It is in his hands now to see if he can play at this level, it is a step up and I have been honest with him that he has to prove himself and we will see what he can do at eight, but I think he will have a great game.

"He has got an x-factor around him, I think it will be a very physical and tough battle out there on Saturday. Both forward packs are physical and play more or less the same physical rugby. I said to him that he needs to prove that he can play at this level and be physical and I think what you lose in physicality with Keegan he brings the x-factor.

"If you look at Super Rugby he has played against the Chiefs and the best packs and has always been outstanding, he has played against the best defensive team in the Stormers and has also been awesome so this is a step up for him but he has got the x-factor and he creates things," said Meyer.

In the backline Lwazi Mvovo has been given the chance to start his first Test in South Africa in his favoured position of left wing, with the more experienced Bryan Habana moving across to the right.

"I think they are two great wingers and Bryan is comfortable at 14 as well. I am really looking forward to seeing Lwazi play, he has been awesome in Super Rugby so he gets his opportunity there. Bryan is probably the more experience player so he is playing out of position," said Meyer.

The Bok coach said that the decision to play Flip van der Merwe on the bench ahead of Juandre Kruger was based on the fact that Eben Etzebeth has only just returned from injury and may need cover, with Van der Merwe set to call the line-outs if he replaces Andries Bekker.

"It probably would have been easier with Juandre on the bench because you always want the five guy that can cover the line-outs.

"I always felt that Flip [Van der Merwe] brings something different off the bench, he has been brilliant off the bench and with Eben [Etzebeth] not 100 percent, although he has been declared fit now there is always a question mark so I felt that Flip was the obvious choice for Eben and he will make the calls in the line-outs," he said.

By Michael de Vries