Brussow starts for Boks as injury sidelines Burger

Springbok flanker Heinrich Brussow completed a dramatic turnaround on Tuesday when he was chosen to face the British and Irish Lions in the first Test at Absa Stadium in Durban on Saturday.

Excluded from the original 28-strong squad for the three-match series, the Cheetahs fetcher was drafted in on Monday because of doubts concerning the fitness of Schalk Burger.

The Western Province loose forward has been battling to overcome a calf injury sustained playing for the Stormers in the Super 14.

And when coach Peter de Villiers announced his team and replacements, Brussow was named in the Springbok starting line-up for the first time, while there was no place for blonde tearaway Burger.

Although South African rugby analysts largely backed Burger provided he was fit, there was much sympathy for Brussow, a consistently superb performer this year despite playing for Super 14 basement-dwellers the Cheetahs.

”I was disappointed to miss out on selection into the original squad, which has a lot of great players, but I am very happy about my change of fortune,” said Brussow.

”Playing against the Lions is a great challenge because they are a very good team, but the fact that I have already faced them with the Cheetahs will benefit me.”

Brussow first wore the green and gold of the 2007 Rugby World Cup winners last November, coming on as a replacement in a Test triumph over England at Twickenham.

John Smit skippers the Boks again from the tighthead prop position, with Francois Steyn getting the fullback berth and Ruan Pienaar passed fit to start at flyhalf, while Bulls points machine Morne Steyn is on the bench.

Team: Francois Steyn; JP Pietersen, Adrian Jacobs, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana; Ruan Pienaar, Fourie du Preez; Pierre Spies, Juan Smith, Heinrich Brussow; Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha; John Smit (captain), Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: Gurthro Steenkamp, Deon Carstens, Andries Bekker, Danie Rossouw, Ricky Januarie, Jaque Fourie, Morne Steyn — AFP



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