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Page last updated at 14:23 GMT, Thursday, 26 November 2009

Boks switch Smit as Botha starts

Venue: Croke Park, Dublin Date: Saturday, 28 November Kick-off: 1430 GMT Coverage: Live coverage on BBC2, BBC Radio Ulster MW and the BBC Sport website

BJ Botha
BJ Botha is drafted into the Springbok front-row

World champions South Africa have included Ulster prop BJ Botha in their team for Saturday's clash against Grand Slam champions Ireland at Croke Park.

The inclusion of Botha and Tendai Mtawarira at prop means captain John Smit is switched to hooker with Adriaan Strauss and Wian du Preez losing out.

Victor Matfield replaces Andries Bekker at lock and Wynand Olivier takes over from the injured Adi Jacobs at centre.

Jean de Villiers is on the bench after being a late call-up to the squad.

The South Africans have also made two positional switches from last weekend's 32-10 win over Italy for their tour-ending showdown against the Six Nations champions.

The experienced Schalk Burger is back on the flank with Danie Rossouw moving from the side of the scrum to number eight.

On the bench, there are four other changes, with Bismarck du Plessis and prop CJ van der Linde returning from injury.

Flanker Dewald Potgieter is included in the Test 22 for the first time.


Smit's shortcomings at tight-head were exposed in the recent Tests against France and Italy, with the Springboks scrum demolished in both matches.

But they rejigged their front row in the second half against Italy, bringing on props Mtawarira and BJ Botha and switching Smit, 31, to great effect.

The trio start en bloc at Croke Park, with Smit, rugby's longest-serving Test captain with 66 appearances as skipper, returning to the role where has played most of his international career.

This tour has not been the triumphant finale to a fine year that the world and Tri-Nations champions would have wanted.

The Springboks lost 20-13 to France and have also been been beaten in tour games by English Premiership sides Leicester and Saracens.

South Africa come into this match looking to avoid a third straight defeat by Ireland, having lost both their two previous games in Dublin.

Sexton brings a freshness to the team and for us he's an unknown factor

South Africa coach Peter de Villiers

Matfield's inclusion, in place of Andries Bekker, sees him resume his formidable second-row partnership with Bakkies Botha.

Mtawarira is drafted into a South African scrum which has struggled during the current tour.

The big talking-point from Ireland's team selection was Jonathan Sexton's selection at fly-half instead of Ronan O'Gara.

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers has said he too would have dropped O'Gara in favour of Sexton for Saturday's game.

"Sexton had a fairytale start last week to his international career," said de Villiers in Dublin.

"On that alone I would have kept him there, he brings a freshness to the team and for us he's an unknown factor.

"That kind of stuff is what you need. You need to be inventive if you want to keep the opposition guessing," the South Africa coach added.

South Africa: Zane Kirchner; JP Pietersen, Jaque Fourie, Wynand Olivier, Bryan Habana; Morne Steyn, Fourie du Preez; Tendai Mtawarira, John Smit (capt), BJ Botha; Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield; Heinrich Brussow, Schalk Burger, Danie Rossouw.
Replacements: Bismarck du Plessis, CJ van der Linde, Andries Bekker, Jean Deysel, Dewald Potgieter, Ruan Pienaar, Jean de Villiers.

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see also
O'Gara out as Sexton faces Boks
24 Nov 09 |  Irish
Kidney praise for fly-half Sexton
22 Nov 09 |  Irish
Ireland 41-6 Fiji
21 Nov 09 |  Irish
Italy 10-32 South Africa
21 Nov 09 |  Rugby Union
France 20-13 South Africa
13 Nov 09 |  Rugby Union
Leicester 22-17 South Africa
06 Nov 09 |  Rugby Union
Munster sign centre De Villiers
20 Jul 09 |  Irish

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