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One Change For Springboks As Kick-Fest Looms

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
One Change For Springboks As Kick-Fest Looms

By Daniel Gilhooly of NZPA

Hamilton, Sept 9 NZPA - The All Blacks' belief that South Africa will kick the leather off the ball in the Tri-Nations rugby test here on Saturday appears well founded after the tourists announced one change to their team today.

The fullback with the booming boot, Francois Steyn, replaces Ruan Pienaar from the side who lost 6-21 to Australia in Brisbane last weekend, a result that kept the tournament alive for New Zealand.

Coach Peter de Villiers resisted any other change for the test at Waikato Stadium despite his team's poor performance, easily the worst in a tournament they lead by nine points.

Winger Bryan Habana passed a test on his tight hamstring and was named on the left wing although de Villiers said it would require intensive treatment for the remainder of this week.

As well, No 8 Pierre Spies has overcome a groin strain.

Steyn's contribution was notable during South Africa's two defeats of the All Blacks on home soil earlier in the campaign.

He had few running opportunities but his long, accurate punting helped the Springboks win the territorial battle and apply pressure which New Zealand failed to meet.

All Blacks first five-eighth Daniel Carter this week predicted South Africa would adopt a kick-first mentality and de Villiers' comments today do nothing to dispel that notion.

"We've tried to keep it as simple as possible. But there is a bit of horses-for-courses and Frans can play a major role in Hamilton with his boot," de Villiers said.

"It's not a shift in gameplan. We expect Dan Carter to kick more and with Frans we can put ourselves back in position and able to dictate play."

Saturday will be Steyn's last test before his departure to France, where he has signed to play for Racing Metro.

Carter's response yesterday when asked whether the tourists would go to the boot appeared prophetic.

"I can't see why not, it was very effective for them in South Africa. It put us under a lot of pressure, so I think there are a few similarities they will play this weekend," he said.

"We will have to be at the top of our game and try to put them under pressure and counter their strengths."

A poor Springboks scrummaging display against Australia has not prompted de Villiers to alter his front row or introduce extra front rowers on the reserves bench.

Captain John Smit will start again at tighthead prop while Heinrich Brussow retains his place on the openside flank ahead of Schalk Burger despite an ordinary match in Brisbane.

The only change from the starting side who beat the All Blacks 31-19 in Durban is forced by the injury to right winger JP Pietersen, whose place was taken last weekend by Odwa Ndungane.

New Zealand field two personnel changes from the Durban embarrassment, with Kieran Read at No 8 ahead of Rodney So'oialo while Carter is back from injury -- effectively for injured centre Conrad Smith -- with Stephen Donald and Ma'a Nonu both having shifted out one place in the backline.

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