Lambie named at pivot for Springboks

South Africa head coach Heyneke Meyer has entrusted 22-year-old Pat Lambie with flyhalf responsibilities for Saturday’s meeting with Ireland in the Aviva Stadium (5.30pm).

South Africa head coach Heyneke Meyer has entrusted 22-year-old Pat Lambie with flyhalf responsibilities for Saturday’s meeting with Ireland in the Aviva Stadium (5.30pm).

The Springboks have gone for continuity in selection with just three changes to the team that started in their last Test, against New Zealand in Soweto last month. All three were forced because of injury.

Lambie’s starts in place of the injured Johan Goosen while JP Pietersen returns at right wing and Juandré Kruger takes over at lock.

The latter pair replace Bryan Habana and Andries Bekker respectively, who were both ruled out of the tour because of injury.

“I’m excited to see what Pat can bring to the team,” said coach Meyer.

“He played very well in the last few weeks of the Absa Currie Cup and hopefully he can bring that momentum with him on Saturday.

“It’s also good to have JP back. He’s had a great season and will want to finish the season on a high.

“At lock, there has been strong competition for the No 5 jersey all season and now Juandré gets an opportunity again.”

Returning to Springbok duty for the first time since 2008 is Saracens hooker Schalk Brits, who will start on the bench next to CJ van der Linde and Pat Cilliers.

Should Brits make an appearance, it will be his first Test for South Africa since appearing against Australia four seasons ago, while Van der Linde has not appeared for the team since the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

“Schalk is an explosive player who can bring something special off the bench,” said Meyer. “CJ is very experienced and knows the conditions here quite well, as he played for Leinster for two seasons.”

Meyer said the match would be a major Test in unfamiliar conditions for his young team. A temperature of around five degrees is forecast for Saturday afternoon, while winds and a chance of showers are also predicted.

“I’ve said from the outset that I’d like to see which of the players can handle the Northern Hemisphere conditions on this tour, as it will be the same for the Rugby World Cup in 2015,” said Meyer.

“We’ll be facing an Ireland team that is never an easy opponent in Dublin. The Springboks have only won one of their last four Tests here and since they lost at Aviva Stadium against South Africa in November 2010, they have recorded a number of good victories at their home ground.

“They are a quality and well-balanced side with good experienced players. We’ve seen in our last number of Tests against Ireland how dangerous they can be, but we’d rather focus on our own game and would like to start this tour on a positive note.”

Furthermore, Meyer confirmed on Wednesday that Leinster prop Heinke van der Merwe has been called up to the Springbok squad for the duration of the tour.

“Heinke has played for South Africa before and is based in Dublin, making it easy for him to join the squad.

“I’ve been following his career and he has been playing well for Leinster, who are the Heineken Cup champions,” said Meyer.

South Africa: Zane Kirchner; JP Pietersen, Jaco Taute, Jean de Villiers (c), Francois Houghaard; Pat Lambie, Ruan Pienaar; Tendai Mtawarira, Adriaan Strauss, Jannie du Plessis; Eben Etzebeth, Juandré Kruger; Francois Louw, Willem Alberts, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: Schalk Brits, CJ van der Linde, Pat Cilliers, Flip van der Merwe, Marcell Coetzee, Morné Steyn, Juan de Jongh, Lwazi Mvovo.

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