boks set For war upfront

AFTER a disappointing beginning to their European tour at Leicester, the Springboks will want to right the ship by beating France today on their home ground, something that has not been accomplished since 1997.

AFTER a disappointing beginning to their European tour at Leicester, the Springboks will want to right the ship by beating France today on their home ground, something that has not been accomplished since 1997.

The 1997 Bok team, including current assistant coach Dick Muir, hammered the French 52 - 10. After the failure of the second-choice "dirt tracker" team against Leicester, the first- choice team again takes the field for the Test in the city of Toulouse.

The question of who would replace Jean de Villiers and Francois Steyn in the starting line-up seems answered, with Adi Jacobs coming in at inside centre and Bulls fullback Zane Kirchner filling the No 15 jersey.

France made it clear this week that their intention is to take on the Boks upfront, and have their forwards dominate and dictate the game.

As such, Bok coach Peter de Villiers has opted to include a complete front row on the bench, with Cheetahs duo Adriaan Strauss and Wian du Preez joined by veteran CJ van der Linde, recalled to the squad after injuries to both Gurthro Steenkamp and Jannie du Plessis. Sharks No 8 Ryan Kankowski also gets a rare start, with Pierre Spies having suffered a finger injury in the Currie Cup final.

After a long and gruelling year of rugby, stretching back to February, perhaps the biggest question will be whether the senior Boks still have the energy for these last few matches before their very well-deserved summer break.

There is still confusion over whether first-choice loosehead Tendai "Beast" Mtawarira, a Zimbabwean, will be allowed to continue playing for the Boks.

In the past week or two there has been some baffling communication between Saru and the Department of Sports and Recreation, over Mtawarira's SA citizenship.

There is still no clear answer as to why the sports department did not bring up the issue of Mtawarira's eligibility before he actually made his Bok debut, now a year-and-a-half ago. Secondly, other players, such as Bob Skinstad and Corne Krige have made the transition from foreign nationals to Boks, so there is a precedent.

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