Burger starts for Springboks against Australia

South Africa’s head coach Heyneke Meyer has named Schalk Burger to start as
one of five changes to the Springbok squad for this weekend’s Rugby Championship
opener against Australia.

Burger’s inclusion comes after he put in a strong performance as a replacement
against the World XV and means that Warrent Whiteley has been dropped from the
squad.

The other four changes are on the bench, where props Heinke van der Merwe and
Frans Malherbe, as well as Lood de Jager (lock) and Lwazi Mvovo (wing) have
been included.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said the changes were all part of the plan to
rotate players in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup.

“We’re expecting a massive contest for the ball on the ground on
Saturday and with Schalk there next to Francois Louw and Marcell Coetzee, as
well as Bismarck du Plessis, we’ve got a lot of players who are very good
at the breakdowns,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

“Warren Whiteley played very well last weekend, but he knows exactly where
he stands and will play again for the Boks this season. For this match though,
we decided to go with this specific loose trio.

“I’ve said last week that we will make changes, but it’s also
important to keep some form of momentum. Saturday’s match is going to
be massive in the context of our season and we have to ensure we tick the right
boxes.

“It will be good to see what Heinke, Frans, Lood and Lwazi can do from
the bench, while we’ve also opted to keep continuity in the starting team.
There will most likely be changes for every match this season as we keep one
eye on the World Cup.

“Trevor Nyakane and Vincent Koch performed very well off the bench against
the World XV last weekend, but as we have a lot of depth at prop, I’ve
decided to give opportunities to Heinke and Frans to stake their claims, especially
as both of them have been in excellent form thus far this season.

“Heinke was the in-form loosehead prop in the French Top 14, while Frans anchored
a brilliant Stormers scrum this season.

“Lood is back from injury and our plan has always been to bring him back
in one of our first three internationals of the season, while we’ve decided
to go for Lwazi as he was very good for the Cell C Sharks in Vodacom Super Rugby,
is superb under the high ball and knows his way to the try-line.”

Meyer is under no illusions about the enormity of the task as hand in Brisbane
on Saturday. The Springboks’ recent record in Australia is not great.
The Boks have only beaten the Wallabies once at Suncorp Stadium, two years ago
when they won by 38-12, which is South Africa’s biggest away victory ever
the men in gold.

“If we’re not at our best, it will be a long day at the office,”
said Meyer.

“But we played some brilliant rugby last weekend against the World XV
in Cape Town and the challenge this weekend is to build on that and improve
in the areas we lacked.

“Our basics have to be spot on and it will also be a great test for our
defensive systems against a Wallaby side that can rip any team to shreds with
the ball in hand.”

South Africa

15. Willie le Roux, 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Jesse Kriel, 12. Damian de Allende,
11. Bryan Habana, 10. Handre Pollard, 9. Ruan Pienaar vc, 8. Schalk Burger ,
7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Francois Louw, 5. Victor Matfield (c), 4. Eben Etzebeth,
3. Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck. du Plessis , 1. Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements : 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17. Heinke van der Merwe, 18. Frans Malherbe,
19. Lood de Jager , 20. Oupa Mohoje, 21. Cobus Reinach , 22. Pat Lambie, 23.
Lwazi Mvovo

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