White springs surprise

South Africa coach Jake White has sprung a surprise by switching Jean de Villiers to the wing in place of Breyton Paulse to face New Zealand in Dunedin on Saturday. [more]

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South Africa coach Jake White has sprung a surprise by switching Jean de Villiers to the wing in place of Breyton Paulse to face New Zealand in Dunedin on Saturday.

With Paulse suspended for three weeks following an incident in last weekend’s match against Australia in Perth, it had been expected White would switch De Villiers’ centre partner Jaque Fourie into the wide position.

He has opted instead to bring De Wet Barry into the centre to partner Fourie, and shift De Villiers to a more familiar position.

White has retained the rest of the team that defeated Australia in Perth for the crucial match, where a win would give them their second consecutive Tri-Nations crown under the coach.

White explained he needed Barry’s experience in the side.

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"What we lost with Breyton in terms of experience as he was the most senior back, we had to replace with De Wet Barry," White said.

"We will need that experience in a game like this. Maybe De Wet is less creative than Jean but from second, third and fourth phase the number on your back is irrelevant.

"There is nothing to stop a wing taking the ball at fly-half or at second receiver."

The Springbok bench has also been rearranged and with Gurthro Steenkamp back in South Africa with a broken hand, Eddie Andrews moves into the number 17 jersey.

Wayne Julies also misses out and is replaced by the more versatile Marius Joubert as the outside-back replacement.

"The game is definitely going to be tighter because of the conditions and that suits the style we are going to play," White said.

While the All Blacks on Tuesday named utility back Leon MacDonald at fly-half for the clash, White and his coaching staff consider this may well be a major bluff and are already putting plans in place to call it if needed on Saturday.

White believes the All Blacks would rather start with Auckland fly-half Luke McAlister, who was successful in the recent British & Irish Lions series and has performed impressively in the Super 12 competition.

"This is an interesting choice," White said.

"We expected McAlister to play against us, because he was so effective in the third Test against the Lions. They obviously have a plan. We must just choose the best possible team to beat the All Blacks," White told Beeld newspaper.

The Boks’ backline coach, Allister Coetzee added: "We did not think MacDonald would be the fly-half. We have never seen him play fly-half in the Super 12 series. It is a feather in our cap if they chose him.

"It shows they need experience to counter our intensity and they want to give themselves the best possible chance to beat us. It does not matter how they play. We must make sure we round off every opportunity we get on Saturday," Coetzee said.

The Boks have never won at Carisbrook, and a victory for the All Blacks would see them need to beat the Wallabies next weekend at home to claim the title.

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