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Time to rest the 'veterans'

New Zealand and Ireland have already successfully employed the tactic. Now it is South Africa's turn to rest their 'veterans'.

I suggest the Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer use this coming weekend's clash against Italy to give some of the younger members in his squad a taste of Test rugby against Italy.

I realise the All Blacks struggled to overcome Scotland, this past weekend, and Ireland only managed to overpower Georgia in the second half.

However, both managed to give their reserves significant playing time in a Test match – a key exercise with a view to next year's World Cup.

Yes, the senior Springboks did have a 'break' from active duty just before the tour – at their training camp in Stellenbosch – but for me it is more about throwing some of the youngsters in at the deep end to see who can swim.

In addition, there are a few niggles in the team – prop Jannie du Plessis injured his hamstring and knee in the win over England, Willie le Roux had a hard knock on the cheekbone, Bryan Habana could do with a break, Jean de Villiers is definitely overplayed, Duane Vermeulen deserves a break, Victor Matfield could benefit from playing off the bench and Tendai Mtawarira also seems tired.

The question is: 'Is there enough talent to overcome Italy?'

My answer is short and sweet: "YES!"

Meyer has already said he wants to trial Johan Goosen as a fullback. Now is his chance. Damian de Allende deserves another chance in the midfield, perhaps alongside Jan Serfontein, while Lwazi Mvovo will not let his country down. Patrick Lambie and Cobus Reinach definitely deserve another chance as the halfback pair.

Warren Whiteley and Teboho Mohoje have already showed they are up to the rigours of Test rugby – Whiteley in about 35 minutes during his two appearances (against Australia and New Zealand), while Mohoje has already played five Tests, three times in the starting line-up.

It is also an ideal opportunity to unleash Nizaam Carr on the Azzurri.

Lodewyk de Jager and Eben Etzebeth should be an interesting lock pairing, while Julian Redelinghuys' renowned scrummaging power could not ask for a tougher test than Italy's powerful front row.

I would have Bismarck du Plessis captain the side – partly to have some experience and partly to see if it will help him regain his best form.

The "insurance policy" will be on the bench – seasoned players like Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane, Victor Matfield, Francois Hougaard and JP Pietersen.

Meyer also knows that his overseas-based players are not available for next week's encounter with Wales, as the game is not sanctioned by the International Rugby Board.

It rules out players like Bakkies Botha, Johan Goosen, Bryan Habana, Schalk Burger, JP Pietersen, Gurthrö Steenkamp and Morné Steyn.

With this all in mind, here is the team I would suggest runs out against Italy at Stadio Euganeo in Padova on Saturday!

Jan de Koning's Springbok XV: 15 Johan Goosen, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Damian de Allende, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.

Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Trevor Nyakane, 20 Victor Matfield, 21 Jaco Kriel, 22 Francois Hougaard, 23 JP Pietersen.

@ King365ed


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