Springboks take a chance on Andrews

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South African apprehension at the strength of the French forwards was reflected yesterday in the high-risk choice of Mark Andrews, the athletic front-jumper, as No 8 in the World Cup semi-final in Durban on Saturday.

The Springboks' line-out problems, illustrated by their negligible showing in this area when they opened the tournament against Australia, also played their part in the omission of Rudi Straeuli so that Andrews could be moved and Hannes Strydom incorporated in the second row.

With Strydom, Joel Stransky and James Small fit again, there are three changes of personnel and two of position from the team who began the bruising quarter-final against Western Samoa. Stransky's return at outside-half coincides with Hennie le Roux's move to centre. Small resumes in place of Gavin Johnson on the right wing.

But even more astonishing than the Andrews switch is the selection of Andre Joubert in the expectation that it will be safe for the debonair full-back to play again seven days after breaking a bone in his hand. "We are monitoring Andre's condition day by day and if there is the slightest doubt, he will not play," Morne du Plessis, South Africa's manager, said yesterday.

Joubert is attending the Institute of Aviation Medicine in Pretoria daily for 20-minute sessions in a compression chamber to hasten his recovery. He will then need permission to wear a protective brace in the form of a soft mould, but this could well be denied and then it could take only one collision for him to be seriously injured.

In its way, Andrews' switch to No 8 is no less of a gamble. He has not played there since school days more than five years ago, and though he said yesterday he knows all the Springboks' back-row moves off by heart he can hardly expect three days to suffice to become familiar with how they work in practice. "I will play anywhere for the 'Boks," he intoned. "It's for the interests of the team, not for myself."

By comparison, France are unwontedly tranquil, the only alteration to the team who knocked out Ireland being Fabien Galthie's displacement of Aubin Hueber at scrum-half. This is an intriguing selection, not only because Galthie came to the World Cup only when Guy Accoceberry broke an arm against Scotland, but also because it is Hueber and not the stand- off, Christophe Deylaud, who is taking the blame for the diffident quarter- final performance of the French backs.

Deylaud cut a disconsolate figure then but Pierre Berbizier, the coach, is relying on one half of his pre-tournament dictum coming true: "Deylaud could win us the World Cup or he could lose us the World Cup." Yesterday Berbizier said: "We had an obvious problem against Ireland but we kept Deylaud because he forms a triangle with Lacroix and Sella that we think can work efficiently together. But we had to change something, and by putting Galthie in we hope to provoke a psychological shock to the team."

SOUTH AFRICA (v France, Durban, Saturday): A Joubert; J Small (both Natal), J Mulder, H le Roux (both Transvaal), C Williams; J Stransky (both Western Province), J van der Westhuizen (Northern Transvaal); P du Randt (Orange Free State), C Rossouw, S Swart, J Wiese, J Strydom (all Transvaal), R Kruger (Northern Transvaal), M Andrews (Natal), F Pienaar (Transvaal, capt). Replacements: G Johnson, C Scholtz, J Roux (all Transvaal), G Pagel (Western Province), A Drotske (Orange Free State), R Straeuli (Transvaal).

FRANCE: J-L Sadourny (Colomiers); E N'Tamack (Toulouse), P Sella (Agen), T Lacroix (Dax), P Saint-Andre (Montferrand, capt); C Deylaud (Toulouse), F Galthie (Colomiers); L Armary (Lourdes), J-M Gonzales (Bayonne), C Califano (Toulouse), O Merle (Montferrand), O Roumat (Dax), A Benazzi (Agen), M Cecillon (Bourgoin), L Cabannes (Racing Club). Replacements: F Mesnel (Racing Club), Y Delaigue, A Hueber (both Toulon), L Benezech (Racing Club), P Gallart (Beziers), A Cicagna (Toulouse).