Rugby Union: S Africa spring no surprises for autumn tour

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The Independent Online
IN South Africa there is as yet no alternative to Naas Botha, so the unflattering evidence of the Springboks' thrashing by Australia last month counted for nothing when the party for France and England was announced at the weekend. It will be the Boks' first tour since 1981, writes Steve Bale.

Botha, 34, remains indispensable as stand-off and also as leader since the alternative, Jannie Breedt, the former Springboks captain, announced his unavailability. There will be nine matches in France, including two Tests, followed by four in England, climaxing at Twickenham on 14 November.

As Breedt has decided to retire, the only selectorial discard from the South African teams who lost to New Zealand and Australia is the prop Lood Muller. Notable for his exclusion is the former Ebbw Vale prop Balie Swart, one of those who tested positive for drugs three months ago.

Among seven newcomers is Hugh Reece-Edwards, a full-back who kicked nine of Natal's points as they beat Transvaal 14-13 in the Currie Cup final in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Ben Clarke and Iestyn Lewis scored tries for the English champions Bath when they beat their Italian equivalents Treviso 18-15 in Italy on Saturday night.

SOUTH AFRICAN SQUAD (for tour to France and England): Full-backs: H Reece-Edwards (Natal), T van Rensburg (Transvaal). Wings: P Hendriks, J Olivier (Transvaal), D Oosthuizen (Northern Transvaal), J Small (Transvaal). Centres: H Fuls (Transvaal), D Gerber, F Knoetze (Western Province), P Muller (Natal). Outside-halves: H le Roux (Transvaal), N Botha (Northern Transvaal, capt). Scrum-halves: R du Preez (Natal), G Wright (Transvaal).

Props: K Andrews (Western Province), W Hills (Northern Transvaal), H Rodgers (Transvaal), J Styger (Orange Free State). Hookers: H Roberts (Transvaal), U Schmidt (Northern Transvaal). Locks: S Atherton (Natal), A Geldenhuys (Eastern Province), D Hattingh, A Malan (Northern Transvaal). Flankers: W Bartmann (Natal), I Macdonald (Transvaal), P Pretorius (Northern Transvaal), B Rossouw (Western Transvaal). No 8s: A Richter (Northern Transvaal), T Strauss (Western Province).

ITINERARY: 3 October France Under-21 (Bordeaux); 7 Aquitaine (Pau); 10 Midi-Pyrenees (Toulouse); 14 Languedoc-Roussillon (Beziers); 17 FRANCE (Lyon); 21 Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur (Marseille); 24 FRANCE (Paris); 27 French Universities (Tours); 31 French Barbarians (Lille); 4 November Midlands (Leicester); 7 England B (Bristol); 10 North (Leeds); 14 ENGLAND (Twickenham).