Ndungane wins Springbok call

South Africa coach Jake White has completed his U-turn by selecting Bulls winger Akona Ndungane in the starting XV for the Boks' Tri-Nations opener against Australia in Brisbane on Saturday. [more]

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South Africa coach Jake White has completed his U-turn by selecting Bulls winger Akona Ndungane in the starting XV for the Boks’ Tri-Nations opener against Australia in Brisbane on Saturday.

White stated a month ago that he would never pick Ndungane or his twin brother Odwa, who plays for the Sharks, because he deemed them "too slow for international rugby".

However, with Breyton Paulse only fit enough to start on the bench as he continues to recover from a hamstring strain and Brent Russell failing to impress in the recent 36-26 defeat to France, White has had a change of heart.

He hinted his initial assessment of the player might have been a touch hasty by including Ndungane in his Tri-Nations squad, although that was largely due to an injury to fellow winger Bryan Habana.

Habana has since overcome a rib problem and will line up on the left side at the Suncorp Stadium.

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Another Bulls man, Pierre Spies, will also make his debut at the weekend.

Loose forward Spies is the son of the 70s wing sensation with the same name and played at the IRB Under-21 tournament last year for his country on the wing.

However, his provincial coach Heyneke Meyer moved him back to loose forward at the beginning of the Super 14, where he excelled, drawing comparisons with Bok captain Bobby Skinstad for his flair and play.

He starts at number eight in a new back row partnership with Joe van Niekerk and Juan Smith.

Midfielder Jaque Fourie also returns after a rib injury to partner Wynand Olivier in the backline, while London Irish hooker Danie Coetzee is on the bench and Ricky Januarie comes in at halfback for Fourie du Preez.

Up front, CJ van der Linde replaces Eddie Andrews at tighthead.

Forgotten fly-half Meyer Bosman, who was plucked from obscurity at the end of 2005 to represent the Boks in Tests against Wales and France, has been recalled to the bench.

John Smit will also earn his 29th Test cap as captain, and thereby become the second most capped Springbok skipper in history after Gary Teichmann.

South Africa: Percy Montgomery; Akona Ndungane, Jaque Fourie, Wynand Olivier, Bryan Habana; Jaco van der Westhuyzen, Ricky Januarie; Os du Randt, John Smit (capt), CJ van der Linde, Victor Matfield, Danie Rossouw, Joe van Niekerk, Juan Smith, Pierre Spies.

Replacements: Danie Coetzee, Eddie Andrews, Albert van der Berg, Jacques Cronje, Fourie du Preez, Meyer Bosman, Breyton Paulse.

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