Dublin - In-form Sharks flyhalf Pat Lambie got the nod from Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer to fill the No 10 spot for South Africa when they take on Ireland here on Saturday.
The key selection will earn Lambie his 18th cap. He was picked ahead of Elton Jantjies, the man who was ahead of him in the queue when the Boks went down 32-16 against New Zealand in Soweto last month.
Jantjies obviously failed to impress during that match because he does not feature in this week’s matchday squad. Instead, discarded Bok No 10 Morne Steyn will be on the bench in Dublin.
Meyer said there was no pecking order at flyhalf.
“This is a horses for courses selection, Pat’s been in amazing form for the Sharks and his goal-kicking has also been spot on,” said the Bok coach. “He’s the player who’s been in the zone and I didn’t want two youngsters at flyhalf (Lambie and Jantjies).
“Morne’s played over 40 Tests, he knows the conditions up here in Europe and he’s been kicking well again. He’s fresh and knows where he stands in the team – he’s my insurance policy,” Meyer explained.
Lambie said he didn’t feel like he was being thrown to the wolves, now that he’s been asked to step up and make the position his own in unfamiliar conditions.
“I’ve learnt a lot under coach Heyneke and what he expects of me, and I hope I can be the player he wants me to be,” said Lambie.
Meyer feels Steyn can contribute significantly from the bench.
“Louis Koen (the kicking consultant) has been working hard with the guys and Morne’s back up to 85 percent success rate in goal-kicking. He’s been working hard, like everyone, but he’s not under the kind of pressure he was earlier this season.”
Meyer on Wednesday also hailed Jean de Villiers as “a great captain”. The coach stopped short of putting the Bok midfielder in the same class as Bok greats of yesteryear, including record-breaking John Smit and possibly the best lock forward to have played the game, Victor Matfield.
De Villiers will lead the Boks in his 82nd Test on Saturday after shaking off a hamstring injury which prevented him from playing for Western Province in the latter stages of the Currie Cup.
De Villiers has been called the glue that has kept a young Bok side together this year.
“Let’s be honest, it’s been a tough year for Jean, but he’s emerged as an unbelievable captain,” said Meyer of the 31-year-old.
“He hasn’t got the credit yet for what he’s done with this team because we haven’t won enough times for that to happen, but he’s been inspirational for everyone, especially the youngsters who’ve come in.
“He’s pulled everyone together and made this a strong team. He’s done a superb job and I’m sure he’ll take it to the next level next season.”
Zane Kirchner, JP Pietersen, Jaco Taute, Jean de Villiers (captain), Francois Hougaard, Pat Lambie, Ruan Pienaar, Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw, Juandré Kruger, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: Schalk Brits, CJ van der Linde, Pat Cilliers, Flip van der Merwe, Marcell Coetzee, Morné Steyn, Juan de Jongh, Lwazi Mvovo.