Springbok coach Peter de Villiers has rolled out the heavy artillery for today's second Test against Wales, admitting he is looking to see as many of his players in action ahead of this year's Tri-Nations competition.
After beating the Six Nations champions 43-17 in the first Test in Bloemfontein a week ago and before facing Italy next weekend, De Villiers has picked his strongest team to test new combinations and form ahead of the bigger challenges later this year.
The Springboks are set for clashes against Australia and New Zealand next month and in August, and while still showing respect to Warren Gatland’s men, De Villiers knows there are bigger fish to fry later in the season.
By making four changes to his side, recalling World Cup star Victor Matfield at lock to partner Bakkies Botha, including Ricky Januarie at scrumhalf and opting for the talented Francois Steyn on the replacements bench, the new Bok coach no doubt wants to wrap up the Wales series in style.
De Villiers has also changed his front row — the only area where Wales dominated in the first Test — recalling veteran World Cup star BJ Botha at tighthead and handing Coastal Sharks prop Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira a debut.
He has also selected the powerful Ryan Kankowski on the bench, along with veteran fullback Percy Montgomery.
“I’m bringing the big guns on to the field so we can build towards the Tri-Nations,” De Villiers said on Thursday.
He said the Bok coaching staff spent a lot more time on the scrumming this week, after their somewhat disappointing performance in this department last week.
“I want to be clear about what we have in the front row before we go overseas [for the Tri-
Nations],” De Villiers said.
It certainly looks a stronger Bok team than was the case last week, but they’re expecting a far stronger challenge from the Six Nations champions.
“We’d be foolish to not expect Wales to be stronger this week,” captain John Smit said. “But at the same time, we’re looking to keep on raising our game.”
Gatland has also made four changes to his side, bringing in James Hook at fullback and shuffling his back row.
“We believe the back row will give us a combination capable of improving our performance at the breakdown where we need to improve,” Gatland said on Thursday. “Some of the combinations are new but we are well aware of the capabilities of the boys we have chosen and we know what options they offer us.”
Besides Hook’s selection, Richard Hibbard comes in at hooker, Rhys Thomas starts at prop and Gareth Delve gets a run at No. 8.
The NBA said was re-evaluating its training program in China following allegations of abuse of young players by local staff and harassment of foreign staffers at a facility in Xinjiang. The comments come after a report by ESPN that quoted unnamed American coaches as saying that Chinese coaches hit young players. One American coach who worked at a camp in Xinjiang complained of harassment by local police, the sports network said. “The allegations in the ESPN article are disturbing,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said in an e-mail statement on Thursday. “We ended our involvement with the basketball academy in Xinjiang in June
Taiwan Steel on Sunday grabbed three points with a narrow 1-0 win against Hang Yuan FC, to move into the No. 2 spot on the Taiwan Football Premier League (TFPL) log, while Taipower FC beat NTUS 2-0 to maintain first place. Taking advantage early in the match of opposition defenders who had not yet settled down, Taiwan Steel’s attacking trio of Wu Chun-ching, Marc Fenelus from the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Benchy Astama from Haiti pushed forward with good passes. After only one minute of play, Fenelus dribbled from the right flank, feeding a short pass inside the penalty area to
LEAVING IT LATE: Rakuten added late runs last night to add to wins on Wednesday against the Brothers and the Lions on Friday that went down to the last batter The Rakuten Monkeys rallied to post three late runs for another close win, prevailing 5-3 over the Uni-President Lions yesterday as Taiwan’s second-half CPBL season got started with lower scoring output, but exciting finishes. It was Rakuten’s third win in a row. In two games this week, they seized victory in dramatic fashion with their last at-bat and have drawn level with the CTBC Brothers on top of the table after yesterday’s results, 0.5 games in front of the Fubon Guardians and 1.5 games ahead of the Lions. It was tied at 1-1 early, with Rakuten hosting the Lions at the Taoyuan Intenational
STAYING COOL: Hamilton said that his ‘heart nearly stopped’ when he noticed the puncture, but he kept going to beat Alain Prost’s total of six home wins in France Lewis Hamilton said he feared he might not make it home when a last lap puncture almost derailed his charge to a record seventh British Grand Prix victory on Sunday. “I didn’t think I would make it round the last two corners,” the world champion said. The front left tire of his Mercedes had delaminated and deflated on his final lap, leaving the six-time world champion to nurse his vehicle to the finish as second-placed Max Verstappen hunted him down. “I just can’t believe it,” Hamilton said. “It was heart-stopping. I backed off and stayed chilled and was so glad it happened on