Rugby Union: Botha to lead SA against Kiwis

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SOUTH AFRICA announced their shortlist yesterday for the team to lead the country back into the international arena against New Zealand on 15 August.

The squad of 26 incorporates the players who took part in a final trial against a B side in Pretoria yesterday, including the veteran stand-off, Naas Botha, who is earmarked for the captaincy.

Botha, 34, played in South Africa's last overseas tour, to New Zealand in 1981. Renowned for his precise kicking, he has shown this season he has lost none of his accuracy, although his tackling has proved fallible.

John Williams, the national coach, said after the trial that scrummaging was his main worry. 'There is not enough power in our scrums. If you look at the All Blacks and Wallabies Tests, their forwards are heavy and exert a great deal of pressure in the scrum.

'We will also have to learn very quickly that when we gain possession we must keep it and create attacking opportunities with it.'

The Australian referee at the trial, Brian Leask, said afterwards the South African forward play lacked coherence. 'The Australian and New Zealand forwards drive forward with a lot more purpose,' he said. 'The South Africans seem to have trouble keeping their scrums stable.'

He praised the South African backs as being nippy and full of surprises. 'They'll be good matches,' he said.

The All Blacks arrive on Sunday and play their first match against Natal on 1 August. A week after the Test in Johannesburg, South Africa play the world champions, Australia, in Cape Town.

SOUTH AFRICA (v New Zealand, 15 August, Johannesburg): Full-backs: T van Rensburg, G Grobler; Wings: P Hendriks, J Olivier, J Small; Centres: B Venter, P Muller; Stand-off: N Botha; Scrum-halves: R du Preez, J van der Westhuizen; Props: H Rodgers, J Styger, L Muller, W Hills; Hookers: U Schmidt; H Roberts; Locks: A Geldenhuys, K Wiese, A Malan, S Atherton; Flankers: I McDonald, F C Smit, W Bartmann, R Kruger; No 8s: T Strauss, J Breedt.

New Zealand's troubles on their tour of Australia continued yesterday when they called for their third replacement in five days in the shape of Pat Lam, Western Samoa's No 8 at last year's World Cup. Lam was due to arrive last night to cover for Arran Pene, who has minor medial knee ligament damage, exposing an already second-string back row. The All Blacks play their final warm-up tonight against Sydney before the third Test against Australia on Saturday.

NEW ZEALAND (v Sydney, tonight): T Wright; E Clarke, M Ellis, M Cooper, E Rush; S Bachop, J Preston; S McDowell, G Dowd, G Purvis, M Cooksley, B Larsen, D Seymour, A Earl, G Taylor or P Lam. Replacements: A Strachan, W Little, J Kirwan, R Loe, R Brooke, G Taylor or P Lam.