Springboks to consider Steyn call-up

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The Independent Online

South Africa will mull over making changes to their backline to face Wales on Saturday after Francois Steyn joined up with the Springbok squad.

Coach Peter de Villiers will name his team today and, with centres Wynand Olivier, Jaque Fourie and Juan de Jongh among an injury list that stretches to 13 players, he may opt to include the Racing Metro back in midfield.

Steyn, a World Cup winner with the Springboks in 2007, missed the 23-21 win over Ireland in Dublin as Racing were not obliged to release the 23-year-old with the Test falling outside the International Rugby Board's designated window.

Zane Kirchner, normally a full-back, filled the midfield void in Dublin but assistant coach Dick Muir hinted that Steyn may get the call for Saturday's Millennium Stadium contest.

"We miss him when he is not with us," said Muir. "He covers a number of positions and gives us lots of options in selection, especially with so many centres currently unavailable through injury.

"He can play 10, 12 or 15 and like Jean de Villiers is pretty flexible. I could see them playing together in the centres but we'll have to weigh up all our options in selection.

"I thought Zane slotted in well there, it's one of the more difficult positions defensively and he was not tested too much in that area, but we were happy with his contribution."

Jean de Villiers is an injury concern for South Africa as he missed training yesterday with the groin injury that limited him to 60 minutes of action at the Aviva Stadium, but team doctor Craig Roberts is confident the former Munster three-quarter will be fit to train today.

"It is an acute muscle strain - not a tear - and it's just a bit sore," said Roberts. "We have to be clever in how we manage him and he should be fine to train tomorrow [Tuesday]."

After winning the Tri Nations and edging the British and Irish Lions in an epic Test series last year, the Springboks have suffered a startling fall from grace this term, losing five out of six Tri Nations fixtures and finishing bottom of the table.

But their record against Wales has seen them suffer just one defeat over 24 Tests and 104 years, and Saturday's match offers a chance to gain a psychological edge as the sides meet for the last time before they open their World Cup Pool D campaigns against each other in Wellington next September.

But Muir insists that the Springboks are not looking beyond Saturday as they seek to atone for their summer disappointments.

He said: "After we finished bottom of the Tri Nations and with all the injuries we have they probably would have targeted this as the easiest game of the three (against the Tri Nations teams).

"So we expect a massive onslaught and we believe it is time for us to stand up and be counted as far as results are concerned. It will be a massive game and a good challenge.

"It's exciting to know the World Cup is around the corner but our focus is just on getting past Saturday and getting the job done.

"Between now and the World Cup a lot will change. We have the World Cup in our long-term planning but it is just about getting through this one on Saturday."