Boks get set for Lions with Pienaar and Smit switch

After selecting John Smit at tighthead prop and Ruan Pienaar at outside-half for the November internationals, South Africa head coach Peter de Villiers has reiterated the esteem in which the World Champions are holding next year's Lions tour. [more]

Boks get set for Lions with Pienaar and Smit switch

After selecting John Smit at tighthead prop and Ruan Pienaar at outside-half for the November internationals, South Africa head coach Peter de Villiers has reiterated the esteem in which the World Champions are holding next year’s Lions tour.

The Boks travel to the UK to face Wales, Scotland and England next month, with de Villiers seeing all three Tests as vital to his side’s preparations for the visit of Ian McGeechan’s men.

"With the British & Irish Lions heading to South Africa in a just a few months, these Tests are as important as any we have undertaken since our re-admission in 1992,” said de Villiers, whose side will take on the Lions in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg in less than eight months time.

Following plenty of speculation both at home and abroad, De Villiers has decided to give utility back Piennar a chance to impress as a playmaker having usually been employed at scrum-half or on the wing. If Pienaar’s switch to No10 was expected, De Villiers’ decision to move Springbok skipper Smit across the scrum has come as more of a surprise, although Smit’s power has often led to the possibility being discussed.

"Ruan Pienaar is earmarked for the No 10 jersey as I’m looking to find a long-term successor to Butch James, following his decision to retire following the Lions tour next year.

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"We felt that the time is right to give players like Ruan an opportunity and we will be looking at John Smit as a tighthead on this tour."

The Springbok squad will assemble in Cape Town next Tuesday before departing for the UK on Friday, October 31.

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