Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has relegated Bismarck du Plessis to the bench for Saturday’s key Rugby Championship clash against Australia at Newlands.
It remains to be seen whether Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie will be breathing a sigh of relief with Meyer’s decision to start Adriaan Strauss instead.
McKenzie will announce his team on Thursday.
In one way, it may look like horses for courses but, according to Meyer, it was always in the pipeline and it was a rationale also applied to Ruan Pienaar’s dropping to the bench in favour of the returning Fourie du Preez.
It looks a very strong Bok team on paper and one that can destroy any team on their day.
“I am a man of my word and before the start of the competition I told Adriaan that he will be starting this game and that Bismarck will be starting the next game. It’s not about keeping Bismarck away from the game. There is nothing to read into his bench demotion. The players know where they stand,” Meyer said.
Meyer said he has developed a formula where players are rewarded for performance, which makes his selection headache easier.
In awarding Jannie Du Plessis and Morne Steyn their 50th test caps, it is a stamp of approval for their mixed form.
Du Plessis has been a rock in the scrum without doing much else on the field, while Steyn is somewhere close to his best, which has translated into a very good year for the Springboks.
With du Preez’s inclusion, it gives Meyer more leaders on the field, which could lead to easier decision making.
“Fourie is in a class of his own and that has been evident in training. We are going to have another coach on the field that will organise the defence and bring an excellent kicking game to the fore. It also helps to take a lot of pressure of Jean de Villiers,” Meyer said.
“The speed of his pass and the speed of his delivery are very good. I really believe he will take us to the next level. We still need to go out and improve on Saturday, but we know what the guy can do.”
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Gurthrö Steenkamp, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Juandré Kruger, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein
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