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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 May 2007, 17:14 GMT 18:14 UK
Willemse returns for Springboks
Ashwin Willemse
Willemse will earn his 16th cap for South Africa against England
Saturday, 26 May
Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 1400 BST
Live on BBC Radio Five Live and BBC Sport website

South Africa wing Ashwin Willemse is set to play his first Test in two years after he was named in the side to face England in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

Willemse last played for the Springboks in 2005 after suffering a succession of injuries and has played only 60 minutes of Super 14 rugby this year.

Outside centre Wynand Olivier replaces the injured Jaque Fourie.

Scrum-half Ricky Januarie replaces Fourie du Preez while lock/flanker Danie Rossouw moves to number eight.

There are no new caps in a squad boasting 418 caps between them. England's revamped line-up has a total of 172.

Willemse, 25, began his international career in 2003 but injuries have restricted him to just 15 appearances. He replaces JP Pietersen, who has a hand injury.

Western Stormers flanker Schalk Burger also returns to the international fold after sitting out most of last season with a career-threatening neck injury.

Coach Jake White has named an essentially second-string half-back pairing of Januarie and fly-half Butch James following the injuries to Du Preez and Andre Pretorius.

Ashwin Willemse is an athlete who has come through the works

South Africa coach Jake White

White said he had no doubts about recalling the 25-year-old Willemse after such a lengthy absence from Test rugby.

"Ashwin's record speaks for itself, he was voted the best player in South Africa in 2003, and I have always said that I believe in him despite all the injuries that he has been battling with," said White.

"I wouldn't want to compare the players, but Jonny Wilkinson was also out for 30 Tests, but the minute he was cleared to play again, their coach Brian Ashton recognised what a gifted player he was and selected him straight back into the team.

"He responded by winning the man-of-the-match award in his first Test back against Scotland in the Six Nations.

"Ashwin has been good in training, he is an athlete who has come through the works. Medically I think he has got what it takes to be back, it is just up to our medical staff to nurse and manage him properly."


South Africa: P Montgomery (Sharks); A Willemse (Lions), W Olivier (Bulls), J de Villiers (Stormers), B Habana (Bulls); B James (Sharks), R Januarie (Lions); D Carstens (Sharks), J Smit (Sharks, capt), B J Botha (Sharks), B Botha (Bulls), V Matfield (Bulls), S Burger (Stormers), J Smith (Cheetahs), D Rossouw (Bulls).
Replacements: G Steenkamp (Bulls), G Botha (Bulls), C J van der Linde (Cheetahs), J Muller (Sharks), P Spies (Bulls), R Pienaar (Sharks), F Steyn (Sharks).


SEE ALSO
Sharks 19-20 Bulls
19 May 07 |  Rugby Union
England hand out three new caps
22 May 07 |  English
Dawson queries Wilkinson call-up
18 May 07 |  English
England 'upbeat' in South Africa
17 May 07 |  English
Rugby union positions guide
05 Feb 07 |  Laws & Equipment


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