|Willemse to start against Wales
|Three changes to the starting XV and the return of Ashwin Willemse. These are the features of the Springbok starting XV that will face Wales in the opening match of their Grand Slam tour, at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium this Saturday.
White surprised by naming his match-day 22 a whole week ahead of the match, but has also ensured there is no disruptive speculation during next week's build-up.
Willemse, South Africa's player of the year, will play in his first match since injuring his knee and ankle in a warm-up match for the Boks in June.
The starting XV shows just three changes from the team that beat Australia in Durban back in August to clinch the Tri-Nations title.
These are Willemse for Jean de Villiers on the right wing, Fourie du Preez for the injured Bolla Conradie at scrumhalf and Juan Smith on the flank for the injured AJ Venter. Two uncapped players — scrumhalf Michael Claassens and flank Tim Dlulane — will be on the bench.
The return of Willemse, as risky as it is after not having played a single game since his injury in June, is based on the fact that he was always White's first choice in the number 11 jersey.
The powerful winger, whose high work rate and natural speed made him one of the few standout players in a very ordinary Bok team last year, played in nine of South Africa's twelve Tests in 2003.
It is tough on De Villiers, who was one of the star performers for the victorious Boks in the Tri-Nations. However, White has always showed faith in his first-choice players and that has been a big part in his success as a coach this year.
The other changes were to be expected. Du Preez was in the running to start anyway, even if Conradie had not been injured. The Bulls scrumhalf played in the early Tests this year, before Conradie was given a run in the latter stages of the Tri-Nations.
Smith, who also came back from an injury that ruled him out of contention for the Tri-Nations series, has found his form with the Cheetahs in the Currie Cup. He certainly gives the Boks an extra line-out option, even though he may lack the real physical grunt of AJ Venter.
The inclusion of Dlulane on the bench means White is looking for a player that can fulfil the physical role that Schalk Burger plays. It is likely he will make his debut in the second half against Wales to give Burger a break.
White also decided to include captain John Smit in the side, despite an injury cloud still hanging over his head. The Bok coach said he would give his captain as much time as possible to recover from the ankle injury he sustained in practice on Thursday.
Springboks: 15 Percy Montgomery, 14 Breyton Paulse, 13 Marius Joubert, 12 De Wet Barry, 11 Ashwin Willemse, 10 Jaco van der Westhuyzen, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Joe van Niekerk, 7 Juan Smith, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Eddie Andrews, 2 John Smit (captain), 1 Os du Randt. Replacements: 16 Hanyani Shimange, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Gerrie Britz, 19 Tim Dlulane, 20 Michael Claassens, 21 Jean de Villiers, 22 Brent Russell/Gaffie du Toit. - 365
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“Team-work won the Final” - Heyneke Meyer