Coetzee springs a selection surprise
Coach sees tighthead Dreyer’s selection as chance to build capacity
Following back-to-back wins over France, Springbok coach Allister Coetzee allowed himself a look into the middle distance with some of his selections for the final Test at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Coetzee sprung a mild surprise when he named Lions tighthead prop Ruan Dreyer in the starting line-up, while Coenie Oosthuizen continues to occupy a spot on the substitutes’ bench. Dreyer comes in for Frans Malherbe, who has been given a breather.
"This is an opportunity to build capacity," said Coetzee, perhaps looking as far as the World Cup.
"When you look at the other two tightheads we have, we are really fortunate that we have a tighthead like Frans Malherbe. He’s played two great Tests as a tighthead.
"Coenie off the bench was exceptional. A country and a national team’s rugby is always healthy when you have good tightheads. And the three of them are really doing a fantastic job," Coetzee said.
"Ruan has trained very hard and has been superb in Super Rugby and yet again in a combination with Malcolm Marx. It is the ideal time to give him an opportunity."
Oosthuizen can of course feel slightly aggrieved that the Lions hard man had leapfrogged him into the starting line-up.
Coetzee, however, was quick to stress the point that his team needs to be as strong at the final whistle as it is at kick-off.
The other change in the pack is enforced through the concussion suffered by Oupa Mohoje, which allows Jean-Luc du Preez to continue where he left off in Durban last week. Du Preez had physically asserted himself against the French, but the soft-spoken bruiser was modest about his exploits at Kings Park.
"I don’t think I’m the only physical player in our team," he less than cheerily pointed out.
Asked whether he had spoken with his Springbok dad Robert about his selection, Du Preez junior produced a predictable response.
"My dad is not a man of many words. I know he is very proud of me," said Du Preez.
In the backline Francois Hougaard comes in for the concussed Ross Cronjé. Coetzee is clear about where he sees the player’s future.
"I don’t want to play Francois on the wing. I think he is a better scrumhalf," the coach said.
In the only other change, Jesse Kriel returns to the No13 jersey in the place of Lionel Mapoe. Kriel and Jan Serfontein formed a formidable partnership in midfield before the former was concussed in the first Test.
"Jesse wasn’t playing a lot at 13 but I know with Jan and Jesse, they’ve been partners both on the field and off the field," Coetzee said to an amused media contingent. "It is really important to understand that they get along well off the field as well.
"Jesse is an out-and-out 13 that we are looking for with his pace and guile and understands how important it is to give us the defensive width and also making sure that the communication on defence is a solid reading of the French outside backs."