Boks to unleash Bismarck on Aus

Mon, 02 Sep 2013 08:46
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Bismarck du Plessis is set to replace Adriaan Strauss in one of several changes to the Springbok team to play against Australia.

Seasoned hooker Bismarck du Plessis is set to replace Adriaan Strauss in one of several changes to the Springbok team for their Rugby Championship Test against Australia.

Du Plessis, who returned to the Test arena in June after a year on the sidelines following knee surgery, will also take over the vice-captaincy from Strauss.

The Boks, who top the Rugby Championship table on points difference ahead of New Zealand, take on the Wallabies in Brisbane on Saturday.

Bok coach Heyneke Meyer told a media briefing on Monday that he will make changes to "freshen up" the team in a bid to end a losing run against the Wallabies in Brisbane.

The Springboks have never won at the Suncorp Stadium, the venue for Saturday's Test, and last won in Brisbane when they beat the Wallabies 14-6 at the Exhibition Ground in 1971.

Meyer said he needed to freshen up his starting team to cope with a taxing travel schedule, which includes flying from Argentina to South Africa to Australia to New Zealand.

The Boks have come off back-to-back wins over Argentina in the Rugby Championship but were forced to fight all the way as they scraped in 22-17 in Mendoza on August 25.

"There will be a few changes, mostly due to rotation, and also we want to have the most fresh as possible team on the field," Meyer told reporters.

"We've travelled a lot... and we're going to play three away matches on the trot and we have to travel for all three so it's important to have fresh guys."

While Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has been keeping his selection options to himself, the Springboks expect Quade Cooper to start at flyhalf instead of Matt Toomua, renewing his Reds partnership with scrumhalf Will Genia.

"I think it's just a matter of time when he comes back, just hopefully not against the Boks," Meyer said of Cooper - who has not started for the Wallabies since being axed by previous coach Robbie Deans over his toxic outburst last year.

"A player like that I would love to have in my team.

"I just believe if Cooper plays well and Genia plays well then the Wallabies play well."

The Wallabies have lost both their opening matches in the Southern Hemisphere tournament to New Zealand in McKenzie's first Tests as coach since replacing Robbie Deans.

Meyer said he has the utmost respect for Australia and also Ewen McKenzie as a coach.

"We know it is going to be an unbelievable tough challenge, but that is why we play rugby," the Bok mentor told the media scrum.

"I think the guys are very excited and very focussed - it will be a great game on Saturday."

He dismissed the notion that the extra travel will impact on the European-based Boks, most of whom flew to France for club games this weekend and started filtering back into the team on Sunday and Monday.

Asked if it was worth letting them travel all that way for 10 minutes of game time, as in the case of record-breaking wing Bryan Habana, Meyer said that decision was not in his hands.

"You should probably pout that question to the [French] clubs," he said, adding: "I am just thankful that everybody came through it [unscathed], everybody is here, everybody is looking fit and ready for the challenge.

"It is great to have them back.

"I spoke to them all this [Monday] morning, except for Bryan [Habana] and JK [Juandré Kruger], but the rest of the guys look fresh and ready to go."

Team doctor Craig Roberts said the Boks were very fortunate on the injury front.

"Not many guys played at the weekend," Roberts said, adding: "The guys that did play [in France] came through well and we are happy with them.

"[Hooker] Chiliboy [Ralepelle], as we know, is in the final stages of his rehab from the back injury he suffered two weeks ago [in Argentina]. He has done really well and he will slot in with the squad tomorrow [Tuesday].

"[Wing] Bjorn Basson was the only other player that was a bit of a concern with a wrist sprain. He also did fill training with the squad this past Saturday and he will slot in with the squad tomorrow [Tuesday].

"[We have] a fit squad to select from."

Roberts dismissed the notion that jetlag could be an issue for the Boks, given their extensive travelling in the past fortnight.

"In terms of the jetlag, it is always a challenge," the doctor said, adding: ""This is truly [now] a global competition, you end up flying right around the world.

"You develop certain strategies to adapt to that.

"Also, the players are used to the travel and the more you travel the easier it does become. With Super Rugby the players are [now] very comfortable with coming to Australia and New Zealand - they are familiar with the jetlag symptoms and we have strategies in place that we utilise to adapt as quickly as possible."