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Matfield’s rehabilitation complete as South Africa name side

Matfield’s rehabilitation complete as South Africa name side

The detente that has been flowering since last week between Victor Matfield and Jake White has resulted in Matfield being named in the starting line-up for Saturday.

Was it all just a misunderstanding? Or were South Africa’s lineout woes against Australia such that the coach had to bite the bullet and invite his best lineout man back into the team?
Either way, Victor Matfield has been named in the second row for South Africa when they play New Zealand in a crunch Tri Nations fixture on Saturday.

Matfield was sent home from Australasia before the first Tri Nations match on the basis that he was ‘injured’, only to be cleared by a specialist on his return to South Africa and play a match that Saturday. Those that were of a speculative bent, and the levels of intrigue prevalent in South African rugby are such that that includes most of the population, reckoned that there was more to it – a disagreement, an attitude problem perhaps?

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It got worse for Matfield before it got better, as he was dropped by his club side, the Blue Bulls, only to have a storming 20 minutes off the bench.

Last week White and Matfield met up to clear the air and both pronounced themselves satisfied that the meeting had been beneficial and worthwhile. In the interim, Australia had taken the South African lineout to pieces in the second half of their match and Matfield’s hand had been strengthened.

The other changes see the versatile Gerrie Britz come in on the flank for AJ Venter, Joe van Niekerk displacing Jacques Cronje and Bolla Conradie earn the scrumhalf spot ahead of Fourie du Preez.

South Africa:

15 Percy Montgomery, 14 Breyton Paulse, 13 Marius Joubert, 12 De Wet Barry, 11 Jean de Villiers, 10 Jaco van der Westhuyzen, 9 Bolla Conradie, 8 Joe van Niekerk, 7 Gerrie Britz, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Eddie Andrews, 2 John Smit (captain), 1 Os du Randt.
Replacements: 16 Hanyani Shimange, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 AJ Venter, 19 Jacques Cronje, 20 Fourie du Preez, 21 Gaffie du Toit, 22 Brent Russell.
Kick-off: 15.00 local time (13.00 GMT)