Lock down for Boks

THE Springboks' locking woes continue. After losing Bakkies Botha for nine weeks because of foul play last week, coach Peter de Villiers will now have to do without the services of Andries Bekker this Saturday against Australia, after he was ruled out with a back injury.

Bekker played only 20 minutes against the All Blacks at the weekend in Wellington, when he suffered an acute disc injury that has cut short his tour.

De Villiers said the injury to Bekker was "unfortunate".

"It is a setback but we will have to deal with it. That is part of the game. We have to rely on the strength within our squad for the Test.

"It is a blow for Andries since he was just coming back from a previous injury," De Villiers said.

The coach's insistence on playing Jean de Villiers in the unfamiliar position of wing clearly backfired in the two losses to the All Blacks, and with the blonde centre now suspended until August 1 for a spear tackle, it is a chance for De Villiers to revert to a more conventional backline.

The combination of Jaque Fourie and Jan de Jongh worked well for the Stormers in the Super 14 and in the international against Wales was impressive. The sooner the coach reverts to this midfield combination the better.

Gio Aplon would also be a better bet on the wing against the Australians.

Up against a backline in Brisbane on Saturday that oozes talent, the Boks will need speed and Aplon has it in abundance.

The conditions this weekend will in all likelihood be different to those of the past two weeks.

Gone will be the wet, heavy underfoot conditions of New Zealand to be replaced by a drier field and sunshine on the Gold Coast of Australia.

That alone calls for the selection of De Jongh and Aplon, and perhaps the replacement of a slow and indecisive Ricky Januarie by Ruan Pienaar, who made a major difference to the backline when he was on the field.