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Time for change in the Bok squad

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Springbok coach Jake White has revealed that he is likely to make some changes to his team for the one-off test against Samoa, at Ellis Park on Saturday, June 9.

It is South Africa’s last warm-up match before the Tri-Nations get underway later this month – with the Boks tackling the Wallabies at Newlands on June 16 in the opening match.

After two convincing victories over England – 58-10 in Bloemfontein and 55-22 in Pretoria – in the past fortnight, White is considering resting some of the players – most notably those who have been involved in both tests, as well as the Super 14 semi-finals and Final, involving the Sharks and Bulls players in his squad.

Although White did not reveal exactly which players will be rested, he admitted that now could be a god time to give some players a break.

“I’ll meet with the other selectors and we’ll have a chat about it,” White said after the Boks’ second test win over England at Loftus Versfeld at the weekend.

“We always said our first goal was to win the series against England.

“I think now we can see what we are going to do with the weeks forward – we’ve got Australia and New Zealand still coming up and obviously Samoa.

“We mustn’t think that these players can play another three consecutive weeks.

“We’ll chat and we’ll have a look and see where we can still be competitive and still give some guys a rest – also give some players who haven’t played much rugby in the last couple of weeks some time.”

Bok captain John Smit, one of the players who could be in line for a rest, said he still feels fine – despite having been through four weeks of taxing, physical rugby.

“At 19-17 [with England leading at the break at Loftus] it was very draining, but after we got to 40 points it felt a lot better,” Smit said about his team’s 55-22 win.

“Yes, it has been four challenging weeks, but I must say on a personal note I’m feeling very good.

“I think guys like Victor [Matfield] is still playing fantastic rugby.

“Yes, the talk will be about if the guys are playing too much rugby, but if you look at guys like Pierre [Spies] and all the guys who put their hands up against England, they’ve all been part of it, four challenging weeks.

“If we want to have some kind of challenge in terms of the World Cup, we are going to have a similar situation – we are going to have four or five challenging weeks in a row.

“We are going to have to be in a mental high and a physical high for four or five weeks, it is probably good preparation for what is coming later.”

White said he was confident looking at the matches ahead – especially with the Tri-Nations looming.

“New Zealand looked a bit rusty [in their 42-11 first test win over France at the weekend], but it is the first game they’ve had out this year, so we mustn’t get too much ahead of ourselves in terms of the All Black performance,” White said.

“It is Australia’s second game [beating Wales 31-0, after winning the first test 29-23 with an injury time try]. I didn’t see the whole game, as we were getting ready to come to Loftus Versfeld, but to win 31-0 after where they were last week just shows there’s been improvement in their performance.”

However, White felt that his team shouldn’t read too much into those performances.

“We’ve got to focus on what we’ve done well and what we’ve done well is score 15 tries, we’ve used our bench and they’ve played really well as impact players.

“If we look at the whole squad – and that is what all the coaches are doing now around the world – it is to make sure you get the balance right in your 30-man squad come the World Cup, and those have been huge positives that I’ve got out of the last two weeks as well,” White added.

By Jan de Koning 365 Digital

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