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Last Updated: Friday, 29 October, 2004, 12:38 GMT 13:38 UK
Smit fit to lead SA against Wales
South Africa captain John Smit holds aloft the Tri-Nations trophy
Smit led the Boks to Tri-Nations glory
South Africa have included captain John Smit in their side to face Wales in Cardiff on Saturday week after his recovery from an ankle injury.

The hooker sustained the injury in a training ground accident on Thursday but has been declared fit to play.

Centre Ashwin Willemse is the surprise inclusion on the wing, with most of the personnel on duty in the Tri-Nations.

Willemse, South Africa's Player of the Year in 2003, has not played any rugby since injuring his knee last June.

"He is one of the best players in the team," said coach Jake White of Willemse.

"He oozes confidence and I know what he adds. I have decided to bring him back in from the start of matches while Jean de Villiers is always there to come up from the bench."

I want us to have a real go at at the grand slam
Springboks coach Jake White
The side is almost unchanged from the one victorious in this year's Tri Nations tournament.

The only player not considered was AJ Venter, who has a hamstring injury.

He is replaced by the impressive Juan Smith, who was outstanding at last year's World Cup before injury intervened.

There are two new potential new caps among the replacements - flanker Tim Dlulane and scrum-half Michael Claassens.

The game in Cardiff is the first of the Springboks' European tour, with further Tests to follow against Ireland, England and Scotland.

They also play Argentina in Buenos Aires, but will attempt to become the first country to achieve a 'grand slam' over the home unions since Australia in 1984.

In 1998 they beat Wales, Scotland and Ireland before being pipped 13-7 at Twickenham.

"A player's whole career can go by without ever getting the chance to play all four home unions on a single tour and I want us to have a real go at it," said White.

South Africa team: Percy Montgomery; Breyton Paulse, Marius Joubert, De Wet Barry, Ashwin Willemse; Jaco van der Westhuizen, Fourie du Preez; Os du Randt, John Smit, Eddie Andrews, Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield, Schalk Burger, Joe van Niekerk, Juan Smith.
Replacements: Hanyani Shimange; CJ van der Linde, Gerrie Britz, Tim Dlulane, Michael Claassens, Jean de Villiers, Brent Russell/Gaffie du Toit.

Interview: South African coach Jake White

SA pick six new players for tour
23 Oct 04  |  Internationals
Smit hails Springboks
26 Jun 04  |  Internationals
Smit lauds Boks resolve
21 Aug 04  |  Internationals
Smit given SA captaincy
25 Mar 04  |  Internationals


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