The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Steyn exit leaves Springboks vulnerable at centre for first test against Wales

  • Print

DURBAN, South Africa - Francois Steyn's shock decision to walk away from international rugby has left South Africa vulnerable at centre as it looks to extend a proud record against Wales in the first test on Saturday.

With Steyn released from the squad at his own request on Tuesday, and with Juan de Jongh ruled out by a chest infection, coach Heyneke Meyer was forced to name an inexperienced centre pairing in Jan Serfontein and JP Pietersen.

Steyn has not given an official reason for taking a break from international rugby, but South African newspapers claimed he quit due to a financial dispute with the South African Rugby Union revolving around image rights.

"I'm a little bit disappointed that he's not available, but I respect his decision," Meyer said.

While Serfontein will be making his first start for the Springboks, Pietersen has played 49 of his 51 tests at wing and the other two at fullback.

The duo is likely to face a stern test from opposite numbers Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies, who form one of the finest midfield partnerships in world rugby.

"I still believe JP can be a great centre, but we have lost five world-class centres and now we find ourselves thin on outside centres a year before a World Cup," Meyer said.

"Jan has played nine games from the bench, including one against New Zealand. It will be a hell of a test for him because I really rate Roberts as one of the best centres in the world."

South Africa is still the strong favourite, having won 27 of its 29 tests against Wales.

Prop Gurthro Steenkamp will win his 50th test cap for the Springboks after being picked ahead of Tendai Mtawarira, while Cornal Hendricks will make his debut on the wing.

Wales warmed up for the two-match series with a 34-12 win over the Eastern Province Kings in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday, and has named uncapped players Gareth Davies and Matthew Morgan on the bench.

"There were a couple of tough calls to make, but it's great guys like Gareth and Matthew have a chance after putting their hands up," Wales coach Warren Gatland said.

Winger George North was withdrawn from Tuesday's game because of a virus, and was picked for the test. But he was still bed-ridden and will have a late fitness check. If North isn't fit, he could be replaced by the uncapped Jordan Williams, or fullback Liam Williams.

Aaron Shingler has the No. 7 jersey in the absence of the injured Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric, and tighthead prop Adam Jones will make his 100th international appearance. Jones has played 94 times for Wales, and five times for the British Lions.

Flanker Dan Lydiate will take his place in the back row after proving his fitness against the Kings following a long injury layoff.

"A lot of this side have experienced playing over here before in big games, and this week is no different, it's going to be a brilliant occasion, the atmosphere will be electric, and hopefully it will be a great test match," Gatland said.



South Africa: Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks, JP Pietersen, Jan Serfontein, Bryan Habana, Morne Steyn, Fourie du Preez; Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw, Victor Matfield (captain), Bakkies Botha, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Gurthro Steenkamp. Reserves: Schalk Brits, Tendai Mtawarira, Coenie Oosthuizen, Lood de Jager, Schalk Burger, Ruan Pienaar, Johan Goosen, Lwazi Mvovo.

Wales: Liam Williams, Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, George North, Dan Biggar, Mike Phillips; Taulupe Faletau, Aaron Shingler, Dan Lydiate, Alun-Wyn Jones (captain), Luke Charteris, Adam Jones, Ken Owens, Gethin Jenkins. Reserves: Matthew Rees, Paul James, Samson Lee, Ian Evans, Josh Turnbull, Gareth Davies, James Hook, Matthew Morgan.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Police update on body of male found in Red River Aug 17

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A monarch butterfly looks for nectar in Mexican sunflowers at Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Monday afternoon-Monarch butterflys start their annual migration usually in late August with the first sign of frost- Standup photo– August 22, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • June 24, 2012 - 120624  -  Amusement riders on the last day of The Ex Sunday June 24, 2012.    John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press

View More Gallery Photos


Who has been the Bombers MVP so far this season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google