Genoa - There was no rest for the Springbok wicked on Monday as coach Harry Viljoen hauled his charges onto the training field at first light in a suburb called Marassi (Place of the Dead), and a number of players were feeling quite at home there when Viljoen handed out the training bibs to a dramatic new line-up to face Italy.

It is a case of no more Mr Nice Guy from a coach that is fed up with players who do not produce, and the failures against France found themselves holding the tackles bags as a fresh new line-up took shape.

Although the team will be officially announced only later in the week, it was perfectly clear from the morning's highly intense session that five players have been axed and there will be three positional changes.

In probably the biggest shock, Lions flyhalf Louis Koen will take over at No 10 from Braam van Straaten who, curiously, keeps his place in the team by shifting to inside centre, with Trevor Halstead moving outside to the No 13 jersey at the expense of Andre Snyman.

It is not clear at this stage whether Snyman has been dropped or is sitting out because of the head injury suffered against France.

Predictably, Pieter Rossouw has paid the price for his tackling misdemeanours in Paris, with big Dean Hall recalled on the left wing.

But if the backline is scarcely recognisable from the one that fumbled against France, there is an even bigger overhaul of the pack that failed to dominate against France.

Loosehead Ollie le Roux is the only front row survivor, with tighthead Cobus Visagie and hooker Lukas van Biljon replaced by Willie Meyer and John Smit respectively.

In the second row, there appears to be no room for Mark Andrews. AJ Venter trained in place of the veteran lock who did not attend training on Monday because he was required to represent the Boks at an IRB awards function in London.

But a team insider confirmed that Venter will be preferred to his Sharks captain this week and will partner Victor Matfield.

Venter's move to lock opens up a position at openside flank, and once again there is a surprise with Viljoen preferring the explosive talents of big Joe van Niekerk to the experience of Corne Krige and Andre Venter.

Team spokesperson Mark Keohane summed up the urgent mood in the squad by saying: "This week was supposed to be about siesta, now it is about survival. The loss against France has changed the complexion of the tour. If we had won in Paris, we might have had an opportunity to rest a few players and play the new guys. But we now have no room for error."


Conrad Jantjes; Breyton Paulse, Trevor Halstead, Braam van Straaten, Dean Hall; Louis Koen, Joost van der Westhuizen; Bobby Skinstad (capt), Joe van Niekerk, Andre Vos, AJ Venter, Victor Matfield, Willie Meyer, John Smit, Ollie le Roux. Replacements: Lukas van Biljon, Toks van der Linde, Andre Venter, Corne Krige, Deon de Kock, Percy Montgomery, Adrian Jacobs.