Small change for Springboks

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The Independent Online
Rugby Union

STEVE BALE

England will face 10 of South Africa's World Cup-winning side when the completed Twickenham is unveiled on Saturday after yesterday's surprising decision by the Springbok management to drop the cult wing James Small.

The Small change - Jacques Olivier wins promotion - is the only one from the team who beat Italy 40-21 in Rome last Sunday. "It was on form," Morne du Plessis, the manager, said. "Olivier had an outstanding end to the season." That was back home; in Italy he impressed after going on as a replacement for Andre Joubert.

Joubert has tender ribs, but is picked anyway. For Olivier, 27 the day before yesterday, it will be a 12th cap, his selection making him the only member of the 1992 Springbok side beaten 33-16 at Twickenham to last the three years since then.

Otherwise, the back line is unchanged from the World Cup final, but the pack has been rearranged due to the injuries which caused Os du Randt, Balie Swart and Hannes Strydom to stay at home and the return of James Dalton, who was suspended during the tournament.

The hooker is joined in the front row by Tommie Laubscher, a tourist here last year, and the newcomer Toks van der Linde, who was still wearing the Springbok cap he won in Italy when the party arrived at their London hotel on Monday. Francois Pienaar has nowadays reverted to No 8, enabling Mark Andrews to return to the second row with the back row completed by Fritz van Heerden, who was dropped after England beat South Africa in Pretoria 18 months ago.

After winning all nine of their Tests so far in 1995, the Springboks are determined to relax in the build-up to Saturday's 10th - which would be a dangerous strategy had it not been such an exhausting year. The very fact of staying in the West End makes it appear more of a holiday than the business of sporting professionals, and today brings golf at Sunningdale.

"We have had an exceptionally long, intense season including the World Cup," Du Plessis said. "In one sense, this is a Test too far, but the redeeming feature is its special significance. Whatever the result, the squad will need and deserve a couple of months' total relaxation."

SOUTH AFRICA (v England, Twickenham, Saturday): A Joubert (Natal); J Olivier (Northern Transvaal), J Mulder, H le Roux (both Transvaal), C Williams; J Stransky (both Western Province), J van der Westhuizen (Northern Province); A van der Linde (Western Province), J Dalton (Transvaal), T Laubscher (Western Province), M Andrews (Natal), J Wiese (Transvaal), F van Heerden (Western Province), F Pienaar (Transvaal, capt), R Kruger (Northern Transvaal). Replacements: J Small, H Honiball (both Natal), J Roux (Transvaal), W Meyer (Eastern Province), C Rossouw, R Straeuli (Transvaal).

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