Boks have edge at Fort Loftus

THE Springboks will aim to wrap up the series against the British and Irish Lions tomorrow in the sold-out pressure cooker that is "Fortress Loftus", an arena that Lions head coach Ian McGeechan acknowledged this week as "the hardest place to play rugby in the world".

THE Springboks will aim to wrap up the series against the British and Irish Lions tomorrow in the sold-out pressure cooker that is "Fortress Loftus", an arena that Lions head coach Ian McGeechan acknowledged this week as "the hardest place to play rugby in the world".

There are indications that all is not well in the Lions camp. The coaching team seemed to be struggling to find their best starting XV, after the tourists struggled to a 13-all draw against an uncapped Emerging Springboks team in torrential conditions in Cape Town.

Meanwhile, the Boks should haven shaken off the rust and fixed their mistakes from last week, and will come out with all cylinders firing.

The indomitable Schalk Burger makes a return to the starting side, replacing Cheetahs fetcher Heinrich Brussow, who drops to the bench.

"The Incredible Schalk" has recovered from a calf injury, and will earn his 50th cap, back in the No 6 jersey. Burger had a quiet Super 14 but almost always seems to be transformed when he pulls on the green and gold jersey.

Brussow had an excellent game last week, and was probably substituted too early, but seeing Burger run on to the field strikes fear into opposition teams.

Ricky Januarie, who has been struggling to find the form he had in last year's Tri-Nations, has been dropped.

Bok coach Peter de Villiers defended the troubled scrumhalf this week, even going as far as to accuse his critics of racism, but he has obviously realised the wisdom of giving Januarie the weekend off.

Januarie's omission means the bench has a 5-2 split, with Jaque Fourie and Morne Steyn providing cover for the backline. The five bruisers that occupy positions 16 to 20 mean that the Boks will again aim to dominate the Lions upfront. Bulls hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle joins the bench, and will earn his fourth Test cap if he comes off the bench to replace Bismarck du Plessis.

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