Springboks relying on greenhorns to make their mark

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The Independent Online

Commercialism is being kicked into touch here today as South Africa go back 100 years to mark the centenary of their first Test against Ireland. Just for today the Springboks will sport replicas of the original all-green jerseys they wore when they beat the Irish in the inaugural Test between these two countries at Ravenhill, Belfast in 1906.

There will not be a logo or sponsor's name to be seen on the bottle-green shirts. But to many Irish eyes at least, the South Africa coach, Jake White, has gone a step further down the green path with his selection for what promises to be a demanding fixture.

White, who had deliberately left behind a fistful of seasoned internationals as he looks towards next year's World Cup in France, has named three newcomers in the team. What is more, the trio of greenhorns form the last line in defence - the back three - which smacks of a serious gamble.

The full-back Bevin Fortuin and the wingers Francois Steyn and Jaco Pretorius will present a threat in attack, they are strong runners with a lot of Sevens experience so they will be dangerous on the counter. But theirs is also a key role in defence and, however good they have appeared for their province, Test rugby is a giant stride up.

It is difficult enough at the best of times, but in the emotional cauldron of Lansdowne Road, stopping the likes of Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy, Shane Horgan and Andrew Trimble will be a different matter.

Up front, the South Africans have picked a back five in the pack where no one is below 6ft 5in. Presumably, they will be hoping to dominate the line-out.

The weight of the South Africans will also be felt at the set-piece, but the quick-witted Irish scrum may cause yet more problems.

Ireland: G Dempsey (Leinster); S Horgan (Leinster), B O'Driscoll (Leinster, capt), G D'Arcy (Leinster), A Trimble (Ulster); R O'Gara (Munster), P Stringer (Munster); M Horan (Munster), R Best (Ulster), J Hayes (Munster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), P O'Connell (Munster), N Best (Ulster), D Wallace (Munster), D Leamy (Munster). Replacements: F Sheahan (Munster), B Young (Ulster), M O'Kelly (Leinster), S Easterby (Llanelli), I Boss, P Wallace (both Ulster), G Murphy (Leicester).

South Africa: B Fortuin (Lions); J Pretorius (Lions), B Habana (Blue Bulls), J de Villiers (Western Province), F Steyn (Natal Sharks); A Pretorius (Lions), R Januarie (Lions);l L Sephaka (Lions), J Smit (Natal Sharks, capt), C J van der Linde (Free State), J Ackerman (Natal Sharks), A van den Berg (Natal Sharks), D Rossouw (Blue Bulls), J Smith (Free State), P Spies (Blue Bulls). Replacements: C Ralepelle (Blue Bulls), B J Botha, J Muller (both Sharks), J Cronjé (Blue Bulls), R Pienaar (Natal Sharks), W Olivier (Blue Bulls), J Pietersen (Natal Sharks).

Referee: P Honiss (New Zealand).