Rudolph Jacobs
Rugby journalist
1 minute read
7 Nov 2013
6:00 am

Frans’ baptism of fire

Rudolph Jacobs

Tighthead prop Frans Malherbe will make the step-up after being handed his first start in a Springbok jersey against Wales in Cardiff this weekend, according to coach Heyneke Meyer.

Eben Etzebeth of Western Province and Frans Malherbe of Western Province during the Currie Cup final between the Sharks and Western Province at Kings Park Stadium in Durban on 27 October 2012© Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix

Malherbe replaces the injured Jannie du Plessis as Meyer made five changes to the team that lost their last Test 38-27 to New Zealand at Ellis Park.

He faces a baptism of fire against experienced Welsh loosehead Gethin Jenkins, but Meyer said Malherbe will be aided by prop Beast Mtawarira and hooker Bismarck du Plessis, while Coenie Oosthuizen starts again from the bench.

“Frans will have two players with more than 50 Test caps each next to him in the scrum, and his general workrate across the field and on defence is very good. I’m very happy for Frans,” said Meyer.

Other significant changes include Pat Lambie at fullback, veteran centre Jaque Fourie and wing JP Pietersen, while lock Bakkies Botha has been left out.

Lambie replaces Zane Kirchner while Pietersen comes in for Willie le Roux, who drops to the bench. Lock Flip van der Merwe is back from injury and replaces Juandre Kruger.

Sharks lock Pieter-Steph du Toit could earn his first cap from the bench in what is widely predicted as a long Test career.

“I’ve been following his career for a long time and Pieter-Steph has always impressed me,” said Meyer. “We first invited him to a training camp last year and he probably would’ve played for South Africa earlier this season had he not been injured.”

The return of Fourie and Pietersen to the squad also excited Meyer.

“We’re very fortunate to have two world-class players available for selection and I wanted to get them into the action as soon as possible.”