pienaar surprise Bok choice
ANY Springbok line-up comes with a controversial selection or five, and this week is no different, with coach Peter de Villiers choosing Ruan Pienaar at flyhalf, over the more reliable boot of Morne Steyn, despite Steyn showing more solid form in the recent Lions series.
Whether it is Steyn or Pienaar dictating play, both sides have formidable line-ups and tomorrow's Tri-Nations game against New Zealand in Bloemfontein looks to be a classic.
Probably the most exciting aspect of this Test match are the rivalries between brilliant players on both sides, epic duels between opponents at or close to the best form of their lives.
At lock, new All Black Isaac Ross, along with the more experienced Brad Thorn, come up against the best locking pair in the world in Bulls men Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield. Both side's hookers, Bismarck du Plessis (SA) and Andrew Hore, are easily the best in the world, while number eights Pierre Spies and Rodney So'oialo are perhaps peerless.
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw is coming back to his brilliant best, but now faces the challenge of South Africa's top fetcher, Heinrich Brussow, so the battle around the breakdown should be a good one.
At scrumhalf, All Blacks coach Graham Henry has recalled livewire Brendon Leonard ahead of Jimmy Cowan, preferring Leonard's aggressive style as a counter to the tactical genius of his opponent, Bok No 9 Fourie du Preez.
In the Bok midfield, Jean de Villiers is reunited with Jaque Fourie, with a groin strain ruling out Adi Jacobs. Facing off against them will be the Hurricanes and All Black pairing of Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith.
Henry has shown his faith in the struggling Joe Rokocoko, who replaces Cory Jane at right wing. Marking Rokocoko is Bryan Habana, while across the field Bok right wing JP Pietersen will be keeping both eyes on dangerman Sitiveni Sivivatu.