De Villiers to lead against England as Scots look to ambush Wallabies


The South Africa coach, Heyneke Meyer, yesterday named the experienced centre Jean de Villiers as his captain for the three-Test series against England which starts in Durban on Saturday.

The 31-year-old, who has 72 caps, has been given the role until the end of the England tour.

The Western Province back, who succeeds the retired John Smit, was preferred to the No 8 Pierre Spies, who plays for a team once coached by Meyer, the Blue Bulls.

Meyer, who named a 32-man squad on Saturday, will review the captaincy at the end of the series. Two potential captains, the flankers Schalk Burger and Juan Smith, are injured.

Meyer said: "Jean's leadership qualities are well established and he has always impressed me with his leadership on and off the field. Jean commands respect from everyone in South African rugby."

De Villiers, who spent the 2009-10 season with Munster, said: "My heart was in my throat when Heyneke told me about his decision on Sunday evening."

Scotland play their first Test of the summer today, against Australia in Newcastle, New South Wales. A storm is forecast before the game, in which the tourists will be looking to avoid an eighth straight defeat.

Scotland's head coach, Andy Robinson, believes his side's chances depend on their ability to stop the Australia captain, the openside flanker David Pocock, and then put pressure on the scrum-half, Will Genia.

"We need to create a bit of mayhem there," Robinson said. "We have to be really accurate inside our half, accurate defensively and accurate when we have got the ball. That means not getting turned over in our half – something that we did not do well in the Six Nations."

Wales, the Grand Slam champions, face Australia on Saturday in Brisbane, in the first of a three-Test series. Their captain, Sam Warburton, said: "It would be a massive step for us to win here. The reason the great England team of 2003 got so much respect was because they went down south and beat all three Tri-Nations teams. That laid down a marker to the rest of the world."