Boks coach starts ‘match winner’ Steyn as Pienaar out injured

SOUTH Africa coach Peter de Villiers has described Morne Steyn as a match winner after calling up the fly-half to replace the injured Ruan Pienaar for Saturday’s Tri-Nations Test match with New Zealand.

Steyn’s inclusion is the only change to the Springboks side that defeated the All Blacks 28-19 in their Tri-Nations opener in Bloemfontein last weekend.

Springboks team manager Arthob Petersen said Pienaar was ruled out of this weekend’s match in Durban as a “precautionary measure” after injuring an ankle against the All Blacks.

The 25-year-old came in for some criticism for his performance with the boot in Bloemfontein when he landed only one of five attempts, although he ran in his side’s opening try.

Steyn, by contrast, is noted for his kicking game, memorably landing a long-range effort to clinch the series against the & Lions last month, and De Villiers believes his side have lost nothing with his inclusion.

“There will always be injuries so there is no use crying about it,” De Villiers said.

“Morne is a very good player, he is a match winner and he has shown that with his franchise side, the Bulls.”

Petersen stressed Pienaar had been left out because of his injury and he maintained the number 10 still has a key role to play in the Springboks’ Tri-Nations plans.

Owen Franks will start his first Test for New Zealand against South Africa.

The 21-year-old Crusaders star gets his chance at tighthead prop having come off the bench for his three previous All Blacks caps.

Franks comes in for Neemia Tialata, who sprained his right knee during the 28-19 defeat by the Springboks in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

The other change comes at half-back, where Jimmy Cowan replaces Brendon Leonard, while John Afoa is named among the replacements.

Meanwhile Wallabies coach Robbie Deans hopes a pre-match meeting with referee Bryce Lawrence will help avoid a repeat of the Tri Nations opener against New Zealand, when his side struggled to stay legal.

The Australians were frequently penalised by South African referee Craig Joubert at crucial stages of the 22-16 loss to the Kiwis at Eden Park, prompting a desperate Deans to arrange a chat with Lawrence ahead of the Cape Town Test on August 8.

“It’s an area that we’ve got to master because it just makes your life so much harder when you get decisions that impact on the flow of the game and impact on possession – particularly in good field positions, it makes it difficult,” Deans said.

While Deans was clearly frustrated by some of the rulings at Eden Park – particularly at set-piece time with tighthead prop Al Baxter conceding three penalties for collapsing the scrum – he insists the onus is on his players to fix the problem.

“There will always be the elements that you can’t control and there’ll always be the suggestion that things go against you,” he said.

Rocky Elsom (knee) will not be considered for selection to face the Springboks but Deans is hopeful the world-class flanker is in line for a return against the Kiwis in Sydney on August 22.

NEW ZEALAND: M Muliaina (Chiefs); J Rokocoko (Blues), C Smith (Hurricanes), M Nonu (Hurricanes), S Sivivatu (Chiefs); S Donald (Chiefs), J Cowan (Highlanders); T Woodcock (Blues), A Hore (Hurricanes), O Franks (Crusaders), B Thorn (Crusaders), I Ross (Crusaders), J Kaino (Blues), R McCaw (Crusaders), R So’oialo (Hurricanes).

Replacements: K Mealamu (Blues), J Afoa (Blues), J Eaton (Hurricanes), K Read (Crusaders), P Weepu (Crusaders), L McAlister (Blues), C Jane (Hurricanes).

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