White gives Pietersen chance to shine

South Africa coach Jake White has challenged JP Pietersen to make the full-back position his own after selecting the Sharks star in the team to face Australia at Ellis Park on Saturday. [more]

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South Africa coach Jake White has challenged JP Pietersen to make the full-back position his own after selecting the Sharks star in the team to face Australia at Ellis Park on Saturday.

White has been forced to tinker with the backline that started the 21-20 win against New Zealand last weekend because winger Bryan Habana has been ruled out with concussion.

Pietersen comes in at number 15 with Jaque Fourie, who played at full-back against the All Blacks, moving to his trademark position of outside centre and Wynand Olivier in turn replacing Habana on the wing.

White insists the loss of Habana is a setback but believes it represents a great opportunity for Pietersen to prove he has the credentials to make an impact on the international stage.

"Bryan’s injury is a huge blow," he said. "His performance last week was probably his best this season.

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"But that gives an opportunity to JP. He has been a part of the squad since we first announced the squad for the training camp in Bloemfontein and there is now a chance for us to see how he does.

"The story I always tell players is when I was in France in 1997 and Justin Swart pulled a hamstring before a French Test.

"(Percy) Montgomery got in at full-back and the guy went on to play 80 times for South Africa. There is an opportunity for JP to put on the 15 jersey and see how he does."

The winger role will be unfamiliar to Olivier but White believes the player can cope with the Australian flyers on the outside.

"It’s not about how much he knows," White added. "He understands how we play as he has been part of our team playing at centre.

"He is comfortable playing anywhere and he was also part of the team that won last week.

"That is what coaching is all about – you’ve got to do something you have not done before.

"We know what Breyton Paulse can do, we know what Akona (Ndungane) and Bryan can do. We’ve got an opportunity now to try something else."

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