matfield to lead boks

SPRINGBOK coach Peter de Villiers has once again rung the changes in announcing his squad of 22 for Saturday's Test against Italy in Witbank.

SPRINGBOK coach Peter de Villiers has once again rung the changes in announcing his squad of 22 for Saturday's Test against Italy in Witbank.

The run-on XV has six changes and five new faces are on the bench compared to the line-up that did duty against France last weekend.

With captain John Smit still battling a hamstring injury, captaincy duties belong to Victor Matfield.

"It is very special to lead your country," Matfield said after the announcement was made.

"I don't intend to do much different than what I do for the Bulls. I may be the guy leading the team out but there is a group of senior players who are there to assist and ensure that we do what we have to do. I work very closely with John too, so it will be an easy transition for me to lead in the team in the Test."

The last time the towering Matfield captained the Boks was back in 2008 when they pipped the All Blacks in Dunedin, New Zealand.

On that day it was scrumhalf Ricky Januarie, who also starts in Saturday's match, who snatched victory after a last-gasp intercept.

There are a couple of interesting selections in De Villiers's line-up.

Butch James starts in the inside centre position as he attempts to stake his claim for a spot in next year's World Cup squad, while Durbanite Alistair Hargreaves is on the bench.

De Villiers explains the reasoning: "Butch is starting at centre but we might also make use of the opportunity to have a look at him at flyhalf during the match. I also would like to give Ruan (Pienaar) a run at scrumhalf."

"Alistair is a number 5 lock and I want him to learn as much as he can from Victor. Andries Bekker grew so much as understudy to Vic and I want that for Alistair."

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